Hundreds attend Newbridge anti-home taxes protest
by Philip Ferguson
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Newbridge, Co. Kildare – estimates ranged from 250 to 500 – on Saturday, February 25 to protest against both the household tax and the septic tank tax. “Don’t register, don’t pay,” was the message delivered by both the banner leading the march and the chanting of the marchers. The protest went to local Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon’s office, although Heydon himself wasn’t there.
Speaking outside the office, Independent councillor Paddy Kennedy, who was also one of the organisers of the protest, urged people not to register for the household tax. To register would amount to “signing a direct debit when you don’t know how much money will be taken from your account,” he told the crowd. Kennedy also pointed to the lies told by the government parties before the election – they had said then that bondholders wouldn’t be paid but, once the election was over, they started paying bondholders while cutting the living standards of most of the people in the state.
Heydon later told a local paper, the Kildare Nationalist, that the 26-county government’s agreement with the Troika (European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission) meant they had no option but to introduce charges in 2012. Of course, while it is perfectly acceptable to Fine Gael and Labour politicians that they break their pledges to the electorate (not to pay bondholders), their deals with the Troika and business interests are always sacrosanct. Heydon also made the absurd claim that imposing these charges was something they were elected to do because the charges were a form of “broadening” the tax base. (In reality, of course, they are about deepening the existing tax base rather than broadening it. Many of the richest people in the south, after all, pay little or no tax.)
Ultimately, however, the solution is not about either broadening or deepening the tax base. Inequality and exploitation have never been taxed out of existence nor can they ever be. The anger and ‘people power’ reflected in mobilisations around the household taxes need to develop into a challenge to the system itself, a system which is built upon inequality and exploitation and can’t survive without them.