A worthy protest -- or just a nuisance?
Published 14/05/2013 | 05:42
The Chairperson of the Wexford Branch of the National Campaign Against Home and Water Taxes (NCHWT) has defended the effectiveness of a recent demonstration, despite it being illegal and mainly affecting other ordinary citizens who were just trying to go about their business.
Deirdre Wadding said the Mayday protest was part of a national day of action, and was unrepentent about incidents of traffic disruption in areas including Enniscorthy, Ferrycarrig Bridge, and Rosslare Europort.
'Yes, we were breaking the law,' she stated. 'We were knowingly breaking the law. From the very beginning, this campaign has been about civil disobedience,' she said.
She said that delaying traffic was 'the point of the exercise' and told how several actions were taken that day by the Wexford group.
They started with a roadblock at Ferrycarrig Bridge, followed by 'a slow convoy' to Enniscorthy - holding up other traffic on the way - before protestors emerged from their vehicles to march over the two bridges there.
They then went back to Wexford, where the group marched along the quays, stopping at the Bank of Ireland to chant 'Bail out the people, not the banks.'
They then proceeded to Rosslare Europort, where the gardai arrived soon afterwards, after receiving a report that vehicles disembarking from a ferry were not being allowed to move on.
'There was a police presence,' said Ms. Wadding. ' But we co-operated with them and they co-operated with us.'
Initially, the gardai asked the protestors to stop the action and infomred them they could not block the port.
'I said we're not blocking the traffic, we're just slowing it down, and following some discussion, the gardai proceeded to police the protest,' she said.
Ms. Wadding said the group gave a lot of thought to the action.
'I've been on the ferry and I felt I wouldn't want to be stuck in a car with children in that situation for a long time. So we decided that we would slow down the traffic rather than block it totally,' she said.
'We walked back and forth across the road at the pedestrian crossing and every few minutes we would let three or four cars through.'
She said many drivers beeped their horns as they drove past, and said this was a show of support for the protest..
The Wexford group has occupied the Revenue offices in Anne Street on a number of occasion and have also staged sit-ins at the offices of TDs Liam Twomey and Paul Kehoe.
The Rosslare Harbour protest was an attempt to step up the momentum.
'The idea is to create maximum visibility for the campaign and also to show a strength,' said the Wexford chairperson.
'We have to balance the need to maintain public support with the need to show the Government that we can shut down the whole country if we chose to,' she said.
'The port blockade is not something we would overuse but it is a weapon in our armoury.
'We wanted to send out the message that this campaign means business and that we can block all the ports around the country, if we choose to.'
'The Government are not taking on board the effects of these taxes and of austerity in general,' said Ms. Wadding.
'We want to let the Government know that we are not going away.'