A week to go, who will crack first?
It’s November, it’s Dublin, it must be round five of the Bin Tax debate in Dublin City Council. With the new Council proposal of 80 Euros per annum flat rate and 5 Euros per lift after that, the cost to a family putting the bin out every week will break 300 Euros a year.
The first vote on the Estimates is this day week and so far the only declared positions are those of Sinn Fein and the three Independents, all of whom have pledged to vote against the Estimates if they contain Bin Charges. This is a bloc of 13 Councillors.
Currently undecided or fracturing are the loan Green and PD councillors (Both expected to back the Charges) – Fine Gael (The majority of whose ten councillors will back the Charges but ‘mavericks’ like Tormey might break ranks) – Fianna Fail (Who will probably back the Charges with a few breaking ranks for personal political reasons but who might abstain initially. No need to make it easy for Labour and FG) and Labour (Who with 15 Councillors are the key power brokers on the issue.)
Labour are key. With their support the Estimates will be rejected. The campaign has been putting a great deal of pressure on Labour councillors in the last few months with successes and failures. Labour Mayor Connaghan was so annoyed by the pressure in his own area he publically broke with the campaign, claiming it was merely to get Brid Smith elected.
On the other hand Labour councillors in areas facing a large SF vote or active Anti-Bin Tax campaigners are looking for cover, either to be allowed to break ranks or for SF or Independents to break ranks and give them cover.
But can the pressure put on Labour councillors by the people match the pressure that will be put on them by the Rabbitte. Labour cannot afford to see the FG/Labour/Green alliance collapse the largest local authority in the country. It’s simple untenable. Therefore the Council must survive, but how? And who votes?
If we assume 13 votes against, only 14 are needed to pass the Estimates. If FF can be persuaded to abstain then FG and a handful of Labour councillors could rig it to pass. If FF decide to play silly buggers and vote against the Estimates it will make things very difficult for the red-blue coalition.
The Council is almost certainly going to pass the Estimates. Labour and Fine Gael cannot allow the Council to collapse and sense the campaign might have reached its zenith some times ago. While some Labour and FG councillors are fluttery, it probably won’t be enough to stop the Charges.