In Stoneybatter and Cabra, where a number of WSM members are active, there have been a mixture of meetings, protests and blockades. Events in Stoneybatter got moving with a public meeting on the 17th of September. The mood was militant and supportive of action to defeat the government's attempts to ride roughshod over public opinion and enforce the double tax. In Stoneybatter we had two short blockades of bin trucks in the estates, one on Swords Street, the other in Drumalee. It became apparent that local blockades in isolation from other areas were capable of only putting limited pressure on the Corporation so the mood in Stoneybatter swung towards arguing for co-ordinated city-wide disruption in order to put a lot of pressure on the state. This was illustrated at one blockade where the choice was democratically made to call it off with no arrests or names taken and to fight another day.
The first step in this process was an evening picket of Grangegorman depot, an idea suggested from the floor at a public meeting and called with the Cabra campaign and supported by people all over the city area. This was a heartening protest as the turnout over the three hours was well over a hundred and no bin lorry got out while the protesters were at the gates.
In Cabra there have been a number of large meetings, at one over 500 turned up. In a very real sense the local meetings are a great improvement in democratic practice than the farce we see in the Dail.
In Cabra there have also been blockades and a number of well attended marches to events in the city centre, for example a march to Mountjoy on Thursday 16th in support of imprisoned protesters drew a crowd numbering hundreds.
In addition there have been pickets of Grangegorman (and other depots) which began at short notice on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th October. Numbers were obviously lower due to the short notice, but the Council workers were very sympathetic to the campaign and their reluctance to break the blockades ensured their success. And, as we go to press, 48 people closed down Grangegorman depot for an evening (Oct 28th) and further blockades were held at depots around South County Dublin on October 29th.
Moving forward, we need improved co-ordination in causing disruption between local areas right across the 4 County Council districts. Decisions which emanate from below are much more likely to have the support of the communities as they participated in making them in the first place. Though the state has come down heavily by jailing protesters, our weapon continues to be solidarity in numbers, and if we can co-ordinate this we have a good chance of success.
In Spain there was an old saying to describe the inequity of that society; "some people eat but do not work and most people work but do not eat." It appears that this is the new type of society that the present Government wish to implement in Ireland.
At the time of writing 15 people have been in prison for peacefully protesting the imposition of this unjust bin-tax. On Oct 14th and 15th a co-ordinated action resulted in all the bin depots across all four council areas being blocked by demonstrators thus effectively shutting down the service. The campaign has always maintained that all bins have to be picked up. Until non-collection is halted similar actions will take place.
The State and the city councils are displaying to the whole country what we already knew, that they are ruthless bullies who will stop at little in their attempt to get away with this heist. The heist is to take a public service, change the laws so as to bring about non-collection, do everything to force people into paying the charge, so that they can make it a profitable business and then privatise it.
The government will continue to jail us for demonstrating against what we believe to be unjust. Another reason why the reaction has been so severe is that this is the culmination of a long campaign where we have won most of the battles. First they tried to make us pay, we refused; then they tried to bring us to court, we opposed them; then they tried non-collection, we blockaded them; then they tried to frighten us with injunctions and jailings, we broke that and activists were prepared to go to jail. This is the reaction of the state to direct action taken by a large community campaign.
But let's remember, despite all the media hysteria flying around that this is simply a case of democracy in action.
The majority of people in Dublin are against this double-tax and the harder they try to crush it the more that resistance grows. The council is like a cornered wild animal lashing out at all that's against them. They have asked their friends in the media to ensure a witch-hunt against the campaigns. It is because there is a genuine fear by the authorities that they are doing this. Lets remember that and ensure that we continue to take the fight to them by maintaining non-payment and preventing non-collection.
087 283 7989 - Campaign Hotline number
www.StopTheBinTax.com and www.indymedia.ie for upcoming protests and meetings
Detailed reports and dozens of photos of blockades and marches at http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html
This edition is No78 published in November 2003