In a week when €1.25billion was handed over by the government to pay Anglo Irish Bank bondholders, angry Arranmore residents have vowed to fight against septic tank and household charges.
Islanders told the Donegal News on Tuesday they have ‘had enough’ and as a community were taking a stand not to pay ‘stealth’ taxes. For years Arranmore has suffered the wrath of emigration, lack of investment and draconian cutbacks and bans on fishing, the islands main livelihood for generations.
The proposed €50 for septic tanks and €100 household charges is a step too many for many of them.
Over 300 from a population of about 500 attended a public meeting on Saturday night to protest. They are sore, but determined to fight against the planned taxes as an island community. They insist they not aligned to any political party.
Jerry Early a lcaol publican said: “Islanders will take a stand on this – make no mistake about it. Household, septic tank and water charges are grossly unfair and the working class are being asked to pay for the debts amassed by reckless bankers and corrupt individuals. We’re not going to stand for it. The government has allowed many decisions to be made in the past which have massively impacted our community causing unemployment and emigration, such as fishing quotas and bans and we had no say in the matter. We could not fight the fishing bans but we can fight this,” he added.
Hugh Rodgers, former Assistant Manager of Arranmore Co-Op said he has three children in New York and Australia.
“The anger is palpable on the island. These charges are a step too far. The EU took away our fishing rights in 73’- there has been few jobs created and our children have been forced to emigrate. Why should we now be asked to pay for rogue banks?,” he said.
“Apart from six years, I have lived all my life on the island. I want to see island communities sign up to a national movement- non political- against these charges- and bring O’Connell Street in Dublin to a standstill. Maybe then, the politicians in government will take notice,” he added.
Mother of four, Jane Murphy, built a house on the island in 2007 and it cost €5,000 to install a septic tank system.
Now, she is worried it is going to have to be replaced at a cost of around €7,000.
“The council gave us planning for the house but now an inspector will have inspect it. If it doesn’t meet the criteria we’re looking at a bill of minimum €7,000. Why did the council hand out planning permission at all if they knew this EU legislation was coming down the track,” she asked.
“It is illegal to be poor in this country now. The banks lent obscene amounts of money and now the middle class and our children are expected to pay for it. There’s no logic to it. Schools and health services are being hit and our young are leaving the country. People voted for change in the last election, but we didn’t get it.”
John McHugh said the charges were an ‘attack on the working class’.
“All we’re getting is more stealth taxes. The way things are going we’ll be charged for fresh air and the government will soon be telling us what time to go to bed!,” he said.
“People have to take a stand. I’m not afraid to say it but I’m a Sinn Féin supporter, yet the party is ambiguous on the taxes. They’re saying on one hand we should take a stand but they’re encouraging people not to break the law. Sure, it makes no sense. If you applied that logic there would never have been a trade union in the country,” he added.
Adrian Begley said people were ‘being hoodwinked’ to pay for the IMF and ECB.
“You’re being asked to pay the same household charge of €100 regardless if you live in Dublin 4 or a remote part of Donegal. There is no equality,” he said.
“We hear government spokesmen trotting out figures like it is only €2 per week, but for a family struggling to put bread on the table a charge of €100 is a lot of money,” he added.
Islanders are due to meet againtomorrow (Saturday) night to decide their next course of action.
Brid Ward was on her way back on the island on the ferry.
“Where is it all going to end?. They’re hiting the ordinary people all the time,” she said.