September 21, 2003


It was quite a week. In a cosy interview with Matt Cooper on TodayFM, Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly waxed nostalgic about the mass breakout of Republican prisoners from the Maze prison in Northern Ireland 20 years ago, though he was less eager to talk about the prison officer killed in the breakout or indeed, the warden that he shot in the head but didn't manage to kill. The Shinners would like to think that their prison days are behind them, but other politicians are taking their place.

Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD, and Clare Daly (another member of the socialist party) were sent to Mountjoy prison for a month on Friday, because they refused to comply with a High Court order to stop obstructing garbage collection in Finglas. Liam Lawlor will probably be joining them soon after yet another bout of testimony at the Planning tribunal that Flann O'Briain would have been proud of.

To hear some of the reaction to Higgins' incarceration, you'd swear it was on a par with the Birmingham Six. Not so. Joe's point is that since people pay income tax, they should not have to pay extra to have their rubbish bins collected - a double tax, as it were. As economist Moore McDowell pointed out, you could make the same argument for more vital services, namely electricity or water. Worse still, because every other county in the country is operating bin charges, Joe's action would lead to a triple taxation for everyone else - paying income tax, their own bin charges and also paying for Dublin's litter collection too. In fact, this is already happening, since the proposed rate of bin charges is about a third of the rate charged anywhere else. It is lower because the state (Dublin county councils) operate the collection, at below the commercial rate (i.e. subsidised by the rest of us).Actually, since Higgins is a TD (also paid for by the rest of us), he's giving us a quadruple tax. Hey wait a minute, we also pay for the prisons…Damn, Joe is really screwing the rest of us. Hopefully, he'll be making wheely bins in the prison workshop.

Most of the other political parties believe in the 'polluter pays' principle. I'd go further - let the area that generates the rubbish take care of the rubbish, rather than plan to ship it to a tip or incinerator, down among the country cousins.

Posted by Monasette at September 21, 2003 10:51 PM | TrackBack