Anti-Household charge protest rally at council offices

Protesters against household and water taxes gathered outside Kildare County Council offices in Naas on Monday last to demand the council publicly denounce the recent €€564,622 cut in the council’s budget for this quarter.

Protesters against household and water taxes gathered outside Kildare County Council offices in Naas on Monday last to demand the council publicly denounce the recent €€564,622 cut in the council’s budget for this quarter.

The cut was made by the Department of the Environment due in part to the average low take-up of the household payment in Kildare.

Chants of “no way, we won’t pay” and “axe, axe, axe, the household tax” greeted councillors as they arrived for their July meeting.

Protesters’ spokesperson Darragh O’Neill from Kildare Town said the government is blaming the cuts on the anti-household charge campaign.

“It is not us,” he said. “This money would have been cut anyway and now they want to blame the campaign. It’s ludicrous at the end of the day to blame us when it is the fault of the bankers, the previous government and the speculators that are profiting at our expense.

“I am unemployed and I am trying to put a roof over my family’s head. My daughter is going to grow up in that house and I’ve a pregnant wife. The government should never be allowed to go after a person’s home.”

Cllr Seamie Moore, arriving for the meeting, said he would be open to widening the exemptions for the tax but thought it was a “fair blame”.

“I understand what they are campaigning against,” he said. “We are going through bad times at every level but the household charge is now legal.

“€100 is not a big amount,” Cllr. Moore said, adding that people who are unemployed can apply for exemptions. “I wouldn’t be against dialogue towards widening the exemptions for people with negative equity, for example.”

Fellow campaigner and Kildare Town resident Joanne Pender, however, told Cllr Moore that her family have zero left at the end of the month. “€100 is going to put me in poverty,” she said.

“If I thought it was a once off payment I would pay it but we know it’s not. €100 a month would mean my children won’t have shoes. I work full time and my husband is on a three-day week. We’re still suffering very badly as our mortgage is very high.”

- Paula Campbell