Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ireland Faces Popular Revolt Over New Property Tax

Debt-mired Ireland is facing a revolt over its new property tax.

The government said less than half of the country's 1.6 million households paid the charge by Saturday's deadline to avoid penalties. And about 5,000 marched in protest against the annual conference of Prime Minister Enda Kenny's Fine Gael party.

Emotions ran raw as police backed by officers on horseback stopped demonstrators from entering the Dublin Convention Centre. Many protesters booed and heckled passers-by who were wearing Fine Gael conference passes, some screaming vulgar insults in their faces.

Protesters jostled with police as they tried to block the way of Fine Gael activists using a back entrance. One man mistakenly identified as the government minister responsible for collecting the tax had to be rescued by police from an angry scrum.

Kenny said his government had no choice, but to impose the new charge as part of the nation's efforts to emerge from an international bailout. Ireland already has endured five emergency budgets in four years and expects to face at least four more years of austerity. more