150 at successful anti-Household Tax meeting in Castlebar

Date:

On a chilly 1st February evening, in Fine Gael’s heartland of Castlebar, over 140 people turned out for the first public meeting of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) in Mayo. Although the meeting was scheduled for 7:30, by 7:15 the room in the Welcome Inn was quietly filling up, much to the surprise of those of us who had been there to organise things since 7:00.

The meeting began with an address from main speaker Joe Higgins TD of the ULA, who emphasised how this new austerity tax was targetting the working class to pay the debts of banks they had no part in creating, and how this was part of a wider context of neo-liberal attacks on the livelihoods of ordinary people across Europe.

Fin Dwyer from the WSM, who also chaired the meeting, gave a short speech on the practical workings of the campaign, emphasising the grassroots nature of the campaign and the need for participation and involvement from communities across the country. “No one is going to not pay your taxes for you.”

The meeting had a general atmosphere of resistance – there was a palpable anger at this new round of austerity cuts, and many felt that this was the right time to say “No”. Many contributions from the floor spoke of the unfairness of ordinary people being expected to pay for the debts of the rich.

“I’m an old age pensioner” said one man “And I’m prepared to go to jail if I have to, but I’m not paying this tax.”

One of the contributors was Pat O’Donnell of Shell to Sea, who pointed out that successive Irish governments had sold out the Irish people by giving away their natural resources, both when Ireland gave away the rights to our multi-billion euro fish stocks upon accession to the EEC in 1973, and again when we signed over our natural gas resources to Shell.

At the end of the meeting, hundreds upon hundreds of leaflets were taken by people who said they would be leafleting their neighbourhoods over the coming weeks. Around 50% of those in attendance signed up for membership of the campaign.

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