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OAP behind anti-property tax letter: Apathetic youth leaving it to 'grey brigade'

Billy Cleary, 73, wrote a strong-worded letter opposing the property tax that went viral on Facebook earlier this week and now he wants to escalate the protest.

Billy Cleary
Billy Cleary

THE PENSIONER BEHIND a strongly-worded anti-property tax letter that went viral on Facebook earlier this week has criticised the ‘apathetic youth’ who have left it to people his age to protest against austerity.

Billy Cleary said he was behind the letter which has a total of nearly 16,000 likes and nearly 10,000 shares on Facebook and now he wants to escalate the protest in a bid to grab even more worldwide attention.

The 73-year-old, from Mullingar in Westmeath, wants to let the world know “that the people of Ireland have finally woken up”.

In a letter written on 8 March, Cleary said that he would not be paying the tax adding that he has “f*** all more to give or to lose”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening Cleary said that people responsible for the financial crisis have been “getting away with murder” and said he had had enough of “the Paddy lying down”.

“If I can get people motivated to get behind this we can do something about it,” he said, explaining his plans to write another letter that he hopes will motivate people to oppose the property tax.

“This has got the attention of the world, it has gone viral as you well know,” he said. “Now, let’s let them know that the people of Ireland have finally woken up.”

The married father-of-five, who has nine grandchildren, hopes that this protest against the property tax will help swing the public opinion against the tax and get the government to reverse the measure.

He cited the impact the “grey brigade”, the thousands of old-aged pensioners, who descended on Dublin in 2008 after the previous government introduced controversial changes to the medical card eligibility, changes which the Fianna Fáíl-led coalition ended up reversing.

“I am disgusted at people not doing anything to get up… they’ll do everything when they are sitting at a bar drinking pints, this is an apathetic attitude. Why is it always left to us? The grey brigade as we’re called. We’re older and we’re bolder.”

Cleary, who emigrated to Britain when he was 15, said he came back to Ireland in 1969 and worked as a builder in addition to being involved in the Republican movement during the Troubles up until 1994 and the IRA ceasefire.

He later worked with children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Belarus in 1986, organising holidays for children from the country, a project he stopped working for a few years ago.

“A lot can be done here without firing a shot,” he added of his protest. “We can’t wait for someone else.”

Read: Almost 60,000 property tax returns made

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Hugh O'Connell

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