‘Hear our anger’ - 2,000 attend Letterkenny protest against household charge

Carolyn Farrar

Reporter:

Carolyn Farrar

Days before the deadline to register to pay the controversial household charge, speakers at a Letterkenny rally urged people to stand united in their refusal to register.

Days before the deadline to register to pay the controversial household charge, speakers at a Letterkenny rally urged people to stand united in their refusal to register.

The Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay campaign in Donegal drew a crowd estimated at 2,000 people from around the county to the town on Saturday for a last major demonstration before the March 31 registration deadline. Supporters met at the Tesco roundabout and marched to Market Square.

The debate has heated up in recent days, with Donegal County Council issuing a statement calling on the public to pay the charge and government ministers making similar calls in the media. But with only about 320,000 out of 1.6 million eligible households registered for the charge by the end of this week, speakers said the momentum is on the side of the national campaign.

Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay, which opposes the household, septic tank and water charges, began in Donegal nearly a year ago, when a small group of people met in the Annagry hall, though the campaign has since become a national one, with branches across the country.

Speakers at Saturday’s protest included Thomas Pringle, independent TD for Donegal South-West and one of the first Dáil deputies to announce he would not pay the charge; Aislinn Collins, a single mother of two from Derrynamansher in west Donegal and Father Brian Ó Fearraigh, the Gaoth Dobhair curate who has been a vocal opponent of the charges.

Speaking to Donegal on Sunday before he addressed the rally, Deputy Pringle said: “People who are refusing to register are now part of a mass movement of protest across the country.”

“The solidarity that the ordinary people are showing over the last number of months has shaken the government,” the deputy said.

But he said that the campaign does not end with the March 31 registration deadline.

“It will probably come into a drawn-out campaign at that stage. People will need to stay in contact with each other and support each other’s resolve to continue the opposition.”

The Killybegs-based deputy said that