A series of countrywide meetings are being planned by those opposed to the new €100 household charge as they step up their campaign in the coming weeks.
Campaigners are also planning a national poster campaign, door-to-door canvassing, and the delivery of some 250,000 newsletters in their bid to encourage people to boycott the tax. Householders must register and pay the €100 charge before the end of March. More than 30,000 households have already registered for the charge.
Some 200 people from around the country attended a meeting organised for activists by the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes in Dublin at the weekend. The campaign, with the slogan “Don’t register, don’t pay” aims to build mass non-registration before St Patrick’s Day and activists will encourage members of the public to pay a €5 membership fee to help fund the campaign.
Socialist Party deputy Joe Higgins said this would be “a massively powerful campaign” which would unite people in their opposition to the ongoing attack on people’s living standards, public services and jobs.
Socialist Party deputy Clare Daly said if the overwhelming majority of people refused to pay the charge, “we can make any threats of fines or penalties basically unworkable and we can make this tax uncollectible”.
Ms Daly criticised the Government for scaremongering and said the prospect of people facing the maximum €2,500 fine for non-payment of the charge was not an immediate prospect. But she said the campaign was not complacent about court appearances and would ensure that nobody would go into court alone.
“They’ll be going in on the shoulders of their neighbours and friends, outside and inside the courts, with legal defence and with a campaign of frustration in that regard.”
Asked about people’s reluctance to break the law, Ms Daly said there was a long proud tradition of people breaking unjust laws.
“Trade unions would never be organised, women would never have the vote if people hadn’t gone out and broken unjust laws,” she said.
She said there was no doubt that this charge would open up a new tier of local taxation. Households would face bills of more than €1,000 in property and water taxes by 2014 if the household tax was not stopped.
She said there was no legislation to allow the authorities to take the €100 directly from wages or social welfare and this was being put out there to scare people.
“This Government is going to come down the heavy on people, threaten people and try to intimidate them,” she said.
“A lot of people are worried and a lot of people will be looking to see how this campaign responds before they make up their minds.”