Cork City Fine Gael councillor Joe O’Callaghan called on the campaigners to follow through on their threat and unveil the candidates they say they will run in next year’s local elections.
“I am sick and tired of their blathering and buffonery,” Mr O’Callaghan said. “Most of these guys have no mandate. I want them and the other loudmouths in this campaign in Cork to stand for election.”
He was speaking after a group of about 30 anti-property and water tax campaigners heckled Environment Minister Phil Hogan during his visit to Cork last week to announce 400 jobs as part of the national water metering programme.
He pointed to one of the campaigners, who spat at a bank official after the recent occupation of the AIB branch of Cork’s St Patrick’s St, and who was also accused of verbally abusing another Fine Gael councillor, Emmet O’Halloran, as he shopped in the centre with his young child.
But John Lonergan, a member of the Cork Campaign Against Household and Water Charges, denied any knowledge of the verbal abuse incident. And he hit back at Mr O’Callaghan, accusing him of headline grabbing. “He must be worried about his seat if he is concerned about ordinary people standing up for themselves. He and the others are afraid of their lives that ordinary people are going to take them out of their nice cushy jobs.
“Joe O’Callaghan should be the last person to talk about politics — he’s had more political parties than I’ve had dinners.
“As long as we’re free people, then we’re entitled to say and do what we want, within reason.
“If he and the others can’t handle the heckling and barracking, then they should get out of the job.”
Mr Lonergan said he is one of several campaign members nationwide who are actively considering standing as independent single-issue candidates in next year’s local election.
Campaign leaders at national level are due to hold a crucial meeting next weekend during which potential election candidates will be identified.
“I was never political, but what this government is doing to ordinary people is disgusting me,” Mr Lonergan said.
Diarmuid Ó Cadhla, a member of The People’s Convention, who was also part of the protest targeting the environment minister in Cork last week, has said his organisation is also planning to run candidates in next year’s local elections.
Local Property Tax returns have now been filed in respect of some 1,517,902 properties — a compliance rate in the order of 90%.
Revenue said, when the Department of Finance announces the end of May exchequer figures later this week, it expects that it will include over €100m raised through the new tax.