Barbara Muldoon, an anti-racism campaigner from Belfast, is facing criminal charges for taking pa
CAHWT delegates meet in Dublin
Up to seventy delegates from around the country met last Saturday 23 June to discuss the progress of the campaign against household and water charges (CAHWT).
After six months of frantic activity, the meeting was a useful opportunity to take stock and plan for the battles ahead.
In the opening session on political perspectives numerous delegates highlighted the need for the campaign to broaden its focus to include all groups fighting against austerity.
Top of the agenda here is the upcoming national protest on 18 July, where it is expected that a whole series of groups will join the CAHWT in opposing the government before the summer recess.
To this end Tina McVeigh (Dublin South Central) proposed that the campaign write to affected groups both locally and nationally to invite them on the demonstration. This was agreed after some discussion and amended to include local councillors who have been vocal in opposing the household charges.
The style of protest was much more contentious. Members of the SWP along with many others argued for an open ended structure that would allow for flexibility on the day and a stewarding arrangement that would respond to the mood of protesters in situ. This was opposed by delegates who preferred a more traditional style of protest, consisting of a march from the Central Bank to the Dáil with speeches etc. In the end it came down to a vote with 36 voting for the latter option and 30 for the former. The event therefore will follow the traditional format.
The issue of Mick Wallace was also raised in this session. Delegates were almost unanimous in their condemnation of a tax cheat who fails to pay pension contributions for workers and a formal motion to exclude Wallace from speaking or appearing on campaign platforms was passed without any real controversy.
In light of Phil Hogan’s latest promise to send 650,000 threatening letters, numerous contributors spoke of the need to be extremely pro-active.
Hogan’s bully boy tactics have the potential to frighten people and the campaign agreed to counter the government with a series of measures.
Firstly, it was decided to produce 200,000 leaflets that will need to be distributed immediately following any government publication.
This will obviously take a lot of organisation and local meetings will be very important in allaying people’s fears and in mobilizing networks of activist to go out into their own communities leafleting and postering.
There will also be a leaflet with legal information available at all public meetings.
The issue of CAHWT trade union work was also raised. Local authority water workers are currently balloting for strike action in response to the threats to move their jobs into Irish Water (see page 2).
This is extremely important in the context of the government’s threats to impose water charges and the campaign agreed to send a delegation of councilors and members of the industrial committee to meet these workers.
More generally, it was also agreed that union members of CAHWT call on their local branches to campaign against the threats to impose household/property tax by deducting payments from employees PAYE or social welfare.
This turn towards organised workers is extremely significant in the broader fight against austerity.
Other issues raised included campaign finance and referred conference motions. The next NSC meeting will take place on Saturday 28 July.
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