15 March 2001 Edition

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Cork Corpo threatens to jail waste protestor

Cork City Corporation has threatened the President of Cork Trades Council, Joe Moore, with jail, over the continuing waste charges dispute in the city.

In a long-standing campaign against charges the Corporation imposed on the people in Cork, many people have refused to pay. Instead, campaigners against the charges have regularly taken their rubbish to the council steps and left it there.

A large number of activists had their names taken at a recent protest dumping. Just two campaigners, Joe Moore and James McBarron, another activist from the city, were charged, brought to court and fined, under the Litter Act, with 28 days to pay, and three days jail in lieu of payment of the fine.

``It is not the first time that government has attempted to jail trade unionists and campaigners who are fighting for the rights of ordinary people,'' says Joe Moore. ``Councillors are supposed to represent local people, not to jail them.

``The waste charges are a disgraceful form of double taxation. In the previous instance, over water rates, the government was forced to back down and recognise their obligation to provide this essential service to the people, without additional discriminatory local charges or rates.''

Sinn Féin Councillor Jonathan O'Brien raised the matter in urgency at last Monday's meeting of Cork Corporation. He called on the City Manager to meet with Householders Against Service Charges and to stop the jailing of activists in their protest. He added that the charges were unjust and represented double taxation and the thin end of the wedge for the introduction of a wide range of local charges. ``The EU has already informed the Dublin Government of their obligation to charge for water,'' he said.

``The jailing of activists for their civil protest is in sharp contrast to the treatment of individuals before the corruption tribunals in Dublin,'' he said. ``We live in a two-tier society, with one law applied to the rich politicians and another to the ordinary people.''

Robbing councillors of democratic power

Jonathan O'Brien made a strong call at Monday's meeting to Environment minister Noel Dempsey that he should not strip councillors of their democratic right to determine waste management policy within their communities.

O'Brien has been a strong campaigner against waste management policies within the county, especially in relation to the Manager's repeated attempt to retain the Kinsale Road dump, against the wishes of local people.

Dempsey, faced with opposition throughout the 26 Counties to his plans to introduce incinerators, has threatened to take the power to decide waste management plans away from councillors and place it in the hands of the unelected council managers, the officials who are all appointed by his department.

``The minister has talked a lot about increasing democratic power of local councillors to determine policy matters. But when the councillors are forced by public opposition within their constituencies to oppose the minister's own policy, he wants to strip them of their powers. This threat makes a farce of democracy.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1