Joe Murphy, the Buncrana man involved in several recent, high-profile budget protests, is calling on Donegal people to protest in every town and village in the county at 3pm this Sunday, January 8th.
“The people who have the least should be the last ones to pay the most, but the way the government is doing these budgets, people with the least are being asked to pay the most,” Joe said. He hopes people across the county will gather in their towns at the same time in simultaneous protest, and that they will take photographs to record the local events.
January looks to be a month of action in Donegal. In addition to the protests Joe hopes will mobilise this Sunday, the county-wide Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay campaign is planning a month of meetings against the household, septic tank and water charges around the county, and the Irish Road Haulage Association is planning a meeting on January 15th in Donegal Town for Donegal’s commercial vehicle drivers.
Long-time health services campaigner Betty Holmes of Donegal Action for Cancer Care said there was a new feeling of energy and anger in Donegal.
“My feeling is the people of Donegal are at a different place where they haven’t been in a long time, not in my experience,” she said. “It’s a new era.”
Joe called a meeting for Buncrana on Tuesday night that drew more than 15 people from different campaigns, organisations and localities. Betty said there was “great comradeship and respect among all the people who were there”.
She said she believed the feeling of collegiality at the meeting “was a reflection of where we’ve come to in Donegal, and a reflection that people have had enough”.
Liam Whyte of the Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay steering committee also attended Tuesday’s meeting. He said the campaign against household, septic tank and water charges is gathering huge momentum in Donegal and nationally. Local people are organising the campaign’s January meetings.
People at Tuesday’s meeting believe “the government’s austerity is really crippling the country, and have come to the conclusion that the best way to fight is a unified course of action”, Liam said.
“The budget has done nothing for this county,” said Joe, who said that people in about 14 Donegal towns and villages have already pledged to protest on Sunday. Joe will drive his van through the county on Friday and Saturday, using a loudspeaker to remind people of Sunday’s protest. Joe’s recognisable van still bears the message that he and his son brought on their 25 mph protest drive from Donegal to Dublin last month: “Protest austerity cuts. No Vat increase. No family taxes. No more fuel increases. Enough is enough.”
“We’re going to try and get people going,” Joe said. Another protest he organised last month drew up to 400 people to Letterkenny’s Market Square.
Haulier John McLaughlin of JML Transport, who also attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he will hold a protest in Convoy on Sunday. “We’re all fighting for near enough the same things,” John said. Irish hauliers around the country are considering a major, national protest for later this month against hikes in diesel and petrol prices.
Photographs of protests held around the county this Sunday can be sent to the Democrat at firstname.lastname@example.org for publication next week.