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Another week in a long struggle
A report on the Dublin City Bin Tax campaign in the first week after City Council announced non-collection. Apologies for the delay in posting - originally compiled on 23rd January.
Meeting in Crumlin, Transport Club
Last week saw another round in the years long struggle between Dublin City Council and the anti-bin tax campaign over how waste management should be run in the city. It's five years since the new bins started arriving at peoples houses and longer since residents started collecting Ł6 from each other and forming the campaign to resist the new charges.There's been European, General and local elections, three Ministers for the Environment and six Lord Mayors. Those six pounds have long been spent on barristers and posters and added to at hundreds of meetings, socials and fundraisers. The new green bins have seen their fill of both anti and pro bin tax literature, not to mention the of glossy printed material mentioned the bin tax from our political class.
So when Matt Twomey, Assistant City Manager, announced the city waste service would start to leave bins behind on some of their collections last week, to the Dublin City campaign it meant starting to gear up again, booking the rooms and talking to the bin workers, planning the routes and calling the membership together again. The council wanted to spin the 'wasters' argument throwing out the figure of 95% in compliance. Unfortunately this didn't tally with the reality which they had revealed last November in response to a query by Cllr. Joan Collins which showed the real figure were more like 1/3 non paid, 1/3 on waivers and 1/3 in compliance with slightly more householders in arears than fully paid. It also didn't match with the information from the Environmental Protection Agency who reported on 25% of the total population in Ireland now being outside the waste service, resulting in an estimated 227,000 tonnes of waste 'unaccounted for'. Given that this was at a point where all the rubbish in Dublin Cot was being collected and before the removal of waivers from at least two county council areas this is a waste problem that one can only expect has increased in line with the spread of waste charges.
The truth didn't seem to bother Mr Twomey much – but then democracy wasn't too high up the priority list either. Remember, he's assistant to the unelected City Manager, in place since 1996, who has the real responsibility for waste on the streets of Dublin. When the Dublin City Anti Bin tax campaign called a series of meetings across the city to decide on a response to the instruction to the bin workers the city council attempted to prevent the meetings – going so far as to contact a pub in Finglas threatening them with a 1,000 euro fine if they let the meeting go ahead. It went ahead anyway, as did meetings of hundreds of residents in Drimnagh and Crumlin. At the Bosco Hall in Drimnagh last Wednesday the decision was made to protest at Davitt Road depot with about 100 of the crowd turning up at the 7.15 protest last Friday morning. The Finglas campaign, in accordance with the plan of organising local responses while awaiting the city wide consultation results, held a bin truck for an hour before allowing it to complete the collection.
While the city council set a timescale of 3 – 4 weeks to implement non-collection, they have had to move the bin trucks out of Ringsend and Grangegorman garages at 6 a.m., driving the workers to their trucks when they come in to start their route. They have only left bins behind in small numbers on a few routes running out of a few depots, affecting hundreds out of the tens of thousands of residents who have not paid. Whether they will be legally able to leave the bins behind of residents who have defeated them in the courts over the bills is still to be seen. The SIPTU regional committee passed an emergency motion that workers should collect all bins, as did a sub committee of the city council which will be on the agenda at the February 6th Council Meeting.Dick Roche has been forced to come out with threats against the 25% of the population without bin services around the country as the reality of waste charges becomes clear.
But the record of the city council to date does not fill the campaign with illusions in their respect for either democracy or the law. Two years ago the council jailed residents who came out to protest. They have been sitting with their injunctions and spin machines and are now under pressure to complete this process before their paymasters in the Dail have to come out and face the electorate. The next two weeks see local meetings in Ballyfermot, Raheny, Fairview, Cabra, the Liberties – communities all across the city who have been leafletting and organising for six years. Hundreds of activists and thousands of campaign members who have their own opinions on the plans to leave waste on their streets. At the meetings last week, the campaign expanded out to protest about the lack of recycling facilities in Drimnagh, the unemptied bottle banks in Crumlin. But thats because, after five years, the anti-bin tax campaign has learnt a lot about the waste management system, about how our democracy works and doesn't work and about how to keep a campaign going year after year.
Meeting in Drimnagh, Bosco Hall
Protest at Depot