Anti-austerity demo halts council meeting

by Gazette Reporter
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Over 25 campaigners staged a protest in the foyer of the Fingal County Council building this week, when members of the Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) disrupted Monday’s council meetings in Swords.
The protest saw approximately 25 to 30 protesters bring the council meeting to a standstill on Monday evening, before they occupied the council lobby for over three hours and saw members of An Garda Siochana called to the building.
The CAHWT members were campaigning against the property tax and, according to one protester, the group were left “with no option” but to stage the protest.
“We have to bring these austerity taxes to the attention of the politicians. They won’t come and listen to us, so we must come to them. It’s a sad day that we have to occupy public buildings to be heard,” they said.
The campaigners are believed to have arrived at approximately 4.30pm and their presence caused the meeting to be suspended. Although the meeting resumed soon afterwards, the campaigners remained in what they described as a “peaceful protest” until 8pm.
Local councillor Eoghan O’Brien (FF), however, said there was “nothing peaceful about it”.
“It was actually quite aggressive. The protesters were trying to rush the chamber. I have no problem with protesters or peaceful protests, but the grand plan yesterday was to move it indoors.
“Myself and other councillors had to leave the building at the end of the meeting through the emergency exit as a result of the intimidating atmosphere,” Cllr O’Brien added.
Gardai were called to the scene as a safety precaution, but no arrests were made.
Campaigner James Faulkner from Balbriggan said that people needed to vent their anger somewhere.
“We’re trying to bring a message back to the politicians that these [councillors] represent us and we don’t want this tax, it’s an unjust and unfair tax. The fact is we’ve invited all the TDs to our meetings and none of them have shown up – not one,” he told the Gazette.
“If the politicians aren’t going to come to our campaign, we’re going to go to theirs. We, the anti-austerity movement, will now be standing candidates – anti-austerity candidates under the Campaign Against Property Tax and Austerity heading, in both the forthcoming council elections and the general elections. If they’re not prepared to hear what we have to say as a group of people, we’re going to take the seats from them, and we’ll remove them from power.”

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