Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Joe Higgins Warns Enda Kenny – Mass Boycott of New Household Tax in 2012

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Enda Kenny, the Mayo Deputy, the New Captain Boycott?

A flavour of Irish Resistance in Mayo during the Nineteenth Century :

Boycott was the land agent at Lough Mask House for one of the great Irish peers and, on the side, he ran a large herd of beef cattle of his own. George Moore, his neighbor and friend, described him as an accomplished horseman and fox hunter, the best shot with a bird gun in the neighborhood, and a charming host: “Kind in hall and fierce in fray.” The tenants on the estate asked for a rent abatement. He refused with more than a touch of oldschool curtness. When they retaliated by not paying any rent at all, he went to court; and on the Wednesday following Parnell’s Sunday speech at Ennis, the process server arrived to begin ejectment formalities. The tenants met him on the highroad, turned him about, and sent him home with his summonses unserved. Then they hinted to all the servants that they would be wise if they stayed away from work, so that the ladies of Lough Mask House were forced to cook the meals and carry out their own slops. Shopkeepers and blacksmiths “shunned” all members of the household. At harvest time no field hands appeared. Boycott sent out a distress call, and fifty Orangemen from the north volunteered “to save Captain Boycott’s praties.” But they required police protection, so Forster dispatched two thousand troops supported with field artillery. George Moore saw them camped in their tents among Boycott’s flower beds, “amid the rustle of his planted hills.” He saw, too, moving through the trees of the park, the anxious captain, armed with a repeating rifle and a pistol on each hip. The harvest lasted two weeks; and when the Orangemen and the army marched away, Boycott fled the country with them. He then began a long and futile correspondence with Gladstone and Forster, demanding further protection on the plea that “the circumstances which compelled me to leave Mayo prevent my return.” In the end he ran up the white flag and settled on the league’s terms, then returned to Lough Mask to live in amity with his tenants, who bore no grudges and acclaimed him an authentic celebrity of the neighborhood.

A revolutionary crisis grew from the rapid spread of the Land League boycott in October and November 1880 A year earlier Parnell had told his mass meeting audiences: “Stand to your guns, and there is no power on earth which can prevail against the hundreds of thousand of tenant farmers of this country”; and again, “if you are determined, I tell you, you have the game in your hands.” As late as the speech at Ennis, he repeated the thought that “if the half million tenant farmers of Ireland struck against the ten thousand landlords,” military force could never subdue them.$ Suddenly all that he had said proved true. The government’s most earnest zeal and ingenuity were powerless to wrestle with this amorphous, ubiquitous adversary. Gladstone and Forster began to envy Wellington and Peel the simplicity of facing up to O’Connell’s monster meetings, where at least there was somebody to shoot at. “With a political revolution we have ample strength to cope,” Gladstone told the House. “But a social revolution is a very different matter.” With a note of panic Forster reported, “Unless we can strike down the boycotting weapon Parnell will beat us.”

From :

The Politics of Irish Literature
From Thomas Davis to W.B. Yeats

Recommended reading :

Thomas Pringle TD, Donegal South-West, Also favours a boycott :,3140871,3140871,flash,257

2 Responses

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  1. The number of elected representatives refusing to co-operate with the household charge grows.

    All we need to say is that nobody should register for the tax or pay any money before March 31 2012 – nothing will happen to you. If we reach a position a couple of weeks before the end of next March where more than 85 per cent of the eligible population has refused to register or pay, then the government will be unable to enforce its undemocratic wishes on its own electorate, never mind the militant minority which voted for the United Left Alliance and other radical-left candidates.

    On the other hand the approach of Sinn Féin Donegal South-West TD Pearse Doherty is very unwise :

    “Pearse Doherty has said he won’t be paying the controversial new €100 household charge – but said he “would not encourage” others to follow suit.

    The Donegal South West TD said that anyone who doesn’t pay the charge should be mindful of the legal and financial consequences.”

    While it is good that some Sinn Féin TD’s are joining their non-paying colleagues in the ULA and left-wing members of the Technical Group, they are not substitutes for mass action, doing politics “on behalf of the people”.

    Pearse Doherty may not know it – he became a member of Sinn Féin after its armed wing, the Irish Republican Army, was stood down – but this political approach has uncomfortable echoes of a traditional military/elitist strain within Irish Republicanism where the army acted politically “on behalf of ” the people, rather than being an instrument of the people’s will.

    Our aim should be that, come mid-March 2012 Deputy Hogan, Captain Boycott-Kenny and Lord Lieutenant Gilmore are facing a St Patrick’s Day Nightmare, interviewing their own electorates – making up over 85 per cent of the state’s population, who have not registered to pay a tax which will go into the pockets of unsecured bondholders – a very close parallel with the 19th Century Mayo Boycott of the parasitic landlords.

    It now appears that Captain Boycott-Kenny’s Unsecured Bondholders’ Tax-Collecting machine is considering taking the €100 Household Tax directly from wages and social welfare payments :


    Dec 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

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