ALMOST 30 campaigners from the Campaign Against Household and Water Tax (CAHWT) disrupted the Fingal County Council meeting at the council buildings in Swords last Monday, February 11, to protest against the property tax.
The campaigners arrived around 4.30pm and stopped the meeting for approximately five minutes when they entered the building and staged a peaceful protest. Although they could not enter the council chamber where the meeting was taking place, they remained outside the building until around 8pm.
Gardai were at the scene, but no arrests were made.
According to councillor Michael O’Donovan (Lab), the protesters had megaphones and whistles and shouted at the councillors through the glass of the chamber door. He said that he shared a “reasonable exchange of views” with some of the protesters after the meeting, and said he “certainly didn’t feel at any stage under threat”.
“The protesters were outside the chamber – outside the hall itself, and they were kept out there by our officials. But, somehow, they managed to get into the foyer,” he said.
“One of our officials, I saw him actually pinned up against the door by the crowd as they tried to surge through, and I was a bit upset for him because he’s not a security man – he’s just an ordinary council official, and he didn’t deserve that. So that annoyed me a bit, I have to say.
“The decision in relation to property tax is not the decision of the councillors. That, if it is voted through, is the decision of the Dail. So I did point this out to the protesters.”
Campaigner Eileen Gabbett from Blanchardstown said: “It was very peaceful and there was absolutely no acrimonious conflict at all.
“There was a bit of a scuffle initially when we went to get in, to stop us from going in, but there was nobody pinned anywhere.
“The councillors are the people on the ground, so to speak, and they report back to the TDs and the TDs aren’t obviously taking any notice of them. Maybe he should shout louder.”
Campaigner James Faulkner from Balbriggan said: “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.”