Phil Hogan seeks sanctuary in church as protestors hold rally outside
If the Minister for the Environment was expecting some kind of celebration or fanfare on his arrival at his own constituency last night, then we imagine he was sorely disappointed. Yes, instead of an adoring public, Phil Hogan was met by a bunch of protestors.
The Irish Times reports that the Minister was in Carlow to launch a new museum at an open air event in the grounds outside the building. However anti-household charge protestors swarmed the area, forcing organisers to move Big Phil’s speech indoors at a nearby cathedral.
For the past few weeks, Mr Hogan has been predicting that the majority of homeowners would eventually cave and pay the controversial €100 charge. Judging from the scenes last night, he was clearly wrong.
It is estimated that between 100 and 150 protesters were present at the event, with some travelling from neighbouring counties to take part in the rally against the Minister’s decision to implement the charge.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Hogan claimed that 57 per cent of eligible households had now paid the €100 (plus late-payment fee and interest). He argued that this was a success in his books because “a lot predicted only 25 per cent of people would pay.”
Of the people who had not yet paid, the Minister said that there would always be people who “will seek to break the law.”
“People will be brought to court by their local authority and they will have to pay this one way or another,” Mr Hogan said.
However, despite the constant threats being made by the Department of the Environment and the Government, it is clear that there are still a lot of people who will not give in.
“We came up here from Wexford – we will go anywhere…I’m not paying, I’ll go to jail for this,” said one protestor at the rally.
Speaking inside the cathedral and addressing the situation outside, the Minister told the people gathered to hear his speech that he respected people’s right to protest but added that in a democratic society, he had a right to speak as well.
While the rally was non-violent, reports have said that it was loud. Clearly the public are ready to have their say as well...