AROUND 40 people took part in an anti-Household Charge protest in Nenagh, with pickets being mounted on the offices of local Junior Minister for Transport Alan Kelly, the office of FG’s Deputy Noel Coonan and the Siptu office on Banba Square.
Eamonn Freeman, chair of the Nenagh & District Campaign Against the Household Charges, described the action on February 15 as a “peaceful vocal protest”.
He said that those who took part were of all ages with different political views, and most with no political interests, “only the interest that what the previous Goverment and the one we have now are persisting in crippling the least well-off and most vulnerable in our society”.
Mr Freeman said that they spent about one hour protesting and asked that Deputy Kelly meet them. However, they were told the Junior Minister was not present.
“I have also e-mailed Alan on a couple of occasions and got no reply, whereas Noel Coonan replied with what was the same old spin as if they had no other choices that they could make - like targeting the well-off and taking some realistic cuts themselves,” said Mr Freeman.
He said that the group then went to the Siptu office on Banba Square to air their disappointment with the non actions of unions at a time when people were having to endure cuts in pay and increased workloads due to layoffs and cutbacks.
The Siptu official met them and when asked about the close ties with a party that was now in power, he stated that Siptu were independent.
“This I would personally have great difficulty with as I explained to him that part of members’ union subscription goes to the Labour Party. He replied that if any member wanted to stop this deduction, he has a form that members can obtain to stop this from happening,” said Mr Freeman.
The campaign chairman stated that people were “so distressed and felt a sense of disbelief at the cuts that kept coming and were affecting the same people all the time”.
“This is why the property, septic tank and water charges are going to be resisted in every way possible. Firstly, the campaign is recomending that people don’t consent to these charges so we won’t be filling out forms giving Revenue consent to take these charges. Secondly, we are calling on more people to come out and make contact with all the local politicians to pressure them to take our resistance back to their parties so they can realise what it is like to scrimp and scrounge to try and juggle bills without now having to worry about all these new taxes. What is it going to take to make them understand the people they are targeting just can’t pay these taxes?” he asked.
Mr Freeman warned that if the Government persisted with taking income directly from source, then other items would not be paid such as mortgage, car tax, TV licence or car insurance.
He pointed out that his group was part of the nationwide campaign and that campaign had been stepped up all around the country with events being picketed where Government ministers were in attendance.