Spirits are High as of Thousands of Household Tax Protesters march on Fine Gael conference

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The Fine Gael Ard Fheis took place over the course of last weekend (31st March). While hundreds of politicians reinforced an austerity-laden approach to politics in Dublin’s Convention Centre, about 10,000 Anti-Household-Charge protesters took over the docklands in an electrifying show of strength.  This was the final day of the governement trying to force people to register for the tax and by midnight it was clear that the campaigns goal of getting 50% to refuse to register had been met.

Bus-loads of people from the country’s four corners, from Cork to Donegal, landed on Dublin city, with old and young voicing their opposition to the farcical and unjust 100 E. tax. By 1.15pm, the whole area around Parnell Square was awash with local grassroots anti-household tax groups, dying the area yellow in a sea of ferverous discontent. Despite media spin attempts to play numbers down, it has been one of the more significant marches to wind down Dublin’s streets in the past years.  Fine Gael pulled the blinds of the conference centre as the demonstration arrived so that the media inside would not see the huge numbers protesting outside.

Fine Gael’s decision to hold their national conference in a NAMA building, on the closing registration date for the household charge, in tandem with the (now deferred) 3.1 billion Euro promissory note to unsecured Anglo-Irish bondholders, shows the vast disconnect with the general public. Whilst Noonan may have kicked the multi billion payout down the road a little, the government’s socialisation of dodgy debts and fiscal dealings cannot be hidden or indeed camouflaged as anything other than what it really is: austerity, inequality, the reinforcement of toxic casino-capitalism.

The march was a tangible manifestation of the power of bottom-up grassroots organising. Whilst huge preparation on a national level went into the logistics of the 3,500 strong rally in the National Stadium on the 24th of March, large-scale preparation for this weekend’s march has only taken place over the last two weeks. Optimistic campaigners estimated a 5,000-strong turnout. But when the figure clearly surpassed that twofold, it was clear how strong this campaign is in local communities across the country. People have been organising, meeting and planning against this government’s unfair measures for months. People from across Ireland seem finally to have found a deep sense of empowerment through successful local coordination.

The march marked a significant jump over a big hurdle, the official closing date for registration, but the campaign is by no means over. The government now has to deal with almost 1 million households who have not paid. Intimidation, threats, media spins, court summons will follow suit, but today’s march shows us that true strength lies in solidarity. Neighbours, acquaintances, family members are banding together to make it heard loudly that we can win this, that we are more powerful than puppets that have been put in power.

Whilst successful and large scale protests are a strong symbolic show of strength, we must continue to fight this on the ground at a local level. We must continue to organise as we have been over the past months and we must continue to oppose this government’s agenda. Movements like this scare them, because they show how strong we can be when we actively partake in participatory disobedience. 

Read : What YOU can do in your local Household tax campaign group to make it more effective

Coming soon:  We will be adding a photo slideshow and video to this article later today.  In the meantime check out the photos and video we posted to our Facebook page.

  • Author: JB

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