Sucessful anti-household tax public meeting in Kildare Town

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Date:

A report on the sucessful Campaign against the Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) public meeting in Kildare:

Upon arriving at the meeting in the Derby House at around 7:30pm I found a number of members of the Kildare CAHWT branch making final preparations in the function room. A projector was playing a recording of an interview describing the continuing mismanagement of the Irish economic crisis.

It wasn't long before people started arriving individually or in small groups to take their seats. The room was well filled by 8pm when a photographer arrived to get some shots of the
speakers holding up a campaign placard. When the meeting started at around 8:15pm there were approximately 60 people in the room.

The lead off to the meeting was given by a member of the Kildare CAHWT branch where he
introduced himself and briefly outlined the state the country is in and how the government is
trying to make us all pay for the crimes of the rich. The importance of a community based
campaign controlled by ordinary people in resisting the unfair taxes was highlighted.

The main speaker, Gregor Kerr of the Workers Solidarity Movement thanked Declan for the
introduction and proceeded to cover the main aspects of the campaign including the payment
levels, government threats and the inevitable increases in the charges if they are not
beaten in the beginning.

After a thorough and well rounded speech the participants at the meeting were invited to speak
and ask questions. Much of this discussion focused around government threats of fines against
people who didn't register and didn't pay. Gregor said that in order for the government to get
that 2500 euro fine out of you they first have to take you through the courts which will be a
very slow and ineffective process. He cited the fact that every single legal tactic that could
hold up a court case would be used starting with something as basic as asking the court if they
can prove that the person they have in front of them is the person the are looking for.

That might sound straightforward but the fact that they are going to face non cooperation in
every aspect of the court case is going to hugely slow down the system and limit the amount of
household tax cases that can be processed. On top of this happening inside the court, every
time a member is brought up in front of a judge there will be a protest outside the court by
their fellow members. All such court cases will be made events of political protest.

The difficulty the courts have processing non payment on a parking ticket will be nothing
compared with what the campaign will put them through. We will defend our fellow members as
we would want ourselves defended.

One man asked would the ability of someone to pay the taxes be taken into account. The answer
was no. The government will be targetting everyone regardless of their low incomes. An elderly
man took Enda Kenny at his word when he said that the tax was "only 2 euros a day" and told
of how he walked into the post office with two euros and asked to pay it there and then to see
if it was true. He said they refused to let him pay two euros a day so Enda was making it up
about that bit. Laughter and applause followed.

Our attention was directed to a board on the wall behind the speakers which carried the names of
Kildare TD's Jack Wall (Labour), Martin Heydon (Fine Gael) and Sean O Fearghail (Fianna Fail).
Under each of their names were the expenses they claimed. Each one of them was claiming almost
half as much again as their actual government salary. People at the meeting were clearly angry
that these outrageous expenses were being claimed considering our economic crisis.

A number of concerns were raised and put to rest during the course of the meeting and everyone
seemed satisfied with the straightforward answers they received. Before he finished speaking Gregor
said that with the household charge people are not just complaining about the government, now they
are taking campaign leaflets and car stickers, they are talking to their neighbours about non payment,
they are taking ownership of a campaign so that they can resist and defeat the state assault on
their standard of living. People are complaining all right, but they are also organising.

After the meeting a number of memberships were sold and the Kildare branch folks along with some
helpers cleared the chairs from the floor, packed up the equipment and the membership stall. This
meeting was a successful one that the Kildare CAHWT branch can build on as they, and every other
branch, continue to resist austerity and give the government a "NO" they cannot ignore.

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