Cllr Anthony Kelly has condemned what he calls the “arrogant stand” taken by the Labour Party leadership towards protestors outside their convention in Galway last Saturday. Cllr Kelly, who travelled to the protest with a Wexford Sinn Féin delegation, said that in his opinion comments made by certain Labour party leadership figures before the demonstration led to an escalation in the anger felt by some members of the crowd. Cllr Kelly also criticised the use of pepper spray by members of the Gardaí.
“Comments made by Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and other senior members of his party before last Saturdays Household Tax Protest led to frustrated protestors having to vent their fury outside the Labour Party National Convention. When Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told protestors to have a nice day during an interview with the media he must have know that the comments would be regarded as an ill-thought and totally inappropriate jibe. It seemed to many that the Tánaiste was belittling the protestors, many of whom are among the 700,000 citizens now living in poverty in this country.”
“These comments were seen to show the Labour Party taking an arrogant stand against the five thousand protestors who turned up for a peaceful event. A couple of hundred protestors later forced their way through barricades to get to doors of the building where the convention was being held because they felt that Labour couldn’t hear their message. I wonder where they got that idea Eamon?”
“I travelled to Galway last Saturday with a delegation from Wexford Sinn Féin, but I was pleased to see several bus loads of ordinary Wexford people up there who were connected to no political organisation. These people simply wanted to send a message to the Labour Party leadership. The Wexford group behaved in an exemplary manner, wore their purple and gold colours with pride and were a credit to our county.”
“I spoke to many people who were furious with the government for not backing down on the household tax,” Cllr Kelly said, “But I also spoke to many people, of all age groups, who genuinely expressed fears for the future. People are worried about what this government will do next if they are allowed to get away with the implementation of the unfair household tax.”
“Sinn Féin is calling on the Labour Party to represent the people who voted for them on the promise of political change and fairness last year by changing their stance on the household tax and on the upcoming fiscal compact treaty referendum. We believe the household charge is an unfair attempt by this government to increase its tax base. The Labour Party had campaigned for a wealth tax in the past but soon dropped this in favour of the inequitable household charge after the election. €800 million could be raised from a wealth tax which would run on the morally right basis that those who can afford to pay more should do so.”