Campaign “fully prepared to legally defend householders is they are taken to court”

The Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) has announced that is “fully prepared to legally defend householders” and will be organising “massive protests” at court cases, aimed at making it “politically impossible for the government to continue with their strategy” of trying to impose the household and property taxes.

A Campaign press conference held in Dublin today was addressed by Paul Murphy MEP, convenor of the CAHWT’s legal working group, and by a number of householders who have received warning letters from their local authorities but are determined they “will not be intimidated into paying”.

Speaking at the press conference, Paul Murphy said:

“We condemn the issuing of summonses by Mayo County Council. The campaign has not been contacted by any of those in receipt of the summons, but we understand that all summonsed so far have been landlords. If ordinary householders, including those in possession of more than one house, receive summonses, we would urge them to contact the campaign immediately on 1890 989800.”

“The Campaign is fully prepared to legally defend ordinary householders if they are taken to court,” Mr. Murphy continued. “We have assembled a team of legal professionals, including solicitors and barristers across the country, led by a prominent Senior Counsel with longstanding expertise in this area. The initial round of court cases will be fought all the way legally.”

“We understand, however, that ultimately there is unlikely to be justice for working people inside the court rooms. While those responsible for the economic crisis walk free, they propose to drag ordinary people before the courts to intimidate non-payers. We aim through a mass movement of protest and civil disobedience to make it extremely difficult for the Councils to prosecute and the courts to convict people. We are calling on people to stand together and refuse to be bullied.”

“Court cases involving ordinary householders will be marked by massive protests at the courts and across the country. Such a movement of protest will be built to put massive pressure on the politicians to make it politically impossible for the government to continue with their strategy.”

“Despite all of the government’s threats and bullying, it is clear that almost 10 months after the introduction of this tax, mass non-payment continues. Regardless of the government’s spinning of figures, the answers to Dáil questions indicate that only 1.04 million households out of 1.8 million have registered, which is 57%, and over 50% of single home owners have still not registered. They have been confirmed in this stand by the talk of the coming property tax, which on the government’s figures, will be around €400 for an average householder. People can seize this opportunity to face this government down and effectively resist not only the household tax, but also the property tax and the onslaught of other austerity measures that will be contained in the budget,” Mr. Murphy concluded.

The press conference was also addressed by a number of householders –

Conor Mac Liam from Kilkenny said:

“I have now received three letters threatening court action over non payment of the household tax. I am ready and willing to take a stand and go to court if needs be. I urge other householders do the same. Kilkenny County Council is hounding householders while it is owed €4.5 million by developers! Where is the campaign to get this money? This is typical of the double standards we have seen in this country. Bondholder debts are being paid at the expense of our hospitals and services, which are being savaged. This is our chance to say ‘no more austerity’. This is a real chance to beat this tax and force the government to commit to a different policy.”

Bobby O’Toole from Deansgrange, Dublin said:

“I have a ‘reminder’ letter from Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Council. I have no intention of paying. I see the Property Tax coming down the line next year, which may amount to hundreds, even €1,000 for some? This campaign was never about one charge of 100 euro. It’s about taxation justice and austerity. Hundreds of thousands of householders are taking this principled stance together. I’d strongly advise the government not to stir up people’s anger with court cases, but if they do, we will protest in our thousands.”

Deirdre Wadding from Wexford said:

“These letters are an attempt to frighten us into paying this tax. Why should we give in to this intimidation? At the beginning of October the government paid out €1billion to unsecured AIB bondholders and on 23rd November they’re planning on handing over another €1billion – this time to EBS bondholders. Those 2 payments alone are more than the household tax would bring in if it was paid by everybody for the next 13 years. Why should we be bullied into paying this money over so that it can be used to pay off the debts of financial gamblers?? Ordinary people from Wexford and throughout the country will not be intimidated and we will not allow our neighbours to be intimidated. If the government insists on taking people to court they can expect huge protests outside those cases. I am confident that by everybody standing together we can face down this intimidation.”

Today’s press conference was chaired by Tina McVeigh, a CAHWT organiser in Dublin South Central.

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