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Stanley questions legitimacy of proposed methods to deduct water bills

24 March, 2015 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley has questioned the legitimacy of government proposals to deduct water bills directly from wages and welfare payments.

Deputy Stanley has also highlighted that the net gain to Irish Water of domestic rates could be as little as €10 million when collection costs and the water conservation grant are taken into account.

Deputy Stanley said:

“The government are threatening to use heavy handed techniques to extract money from those who refuse to pay the water charges. It is evident that they have lost the propaganda war and now are content to use the arm of the state to collect water charges.

“I would question the legitimacy as well as the legality of deducting water bills directly from wages and welfare payments. Irish Water is a stand-alone, commercial semi-state body. Such tactics are not used by the ESB for example which operates along the same lines. It must also be noted that Irish Water has not yet passed the market corporation test.

“Such measures show the desperation of the government, unmitigated by their cartoonish and misleading PR campaign. If, for example, there is a 40% non-payment of the tax, the net gain to Irish Water from domestic water charges is likely to be between €10 - €20 million when collection costs and the water conservation grant are factored in, according to answers given by Minister Kelly.

“If the Labour Party decide to run with this, it will be political kamikaze, especially as they had been so vocal in opposition to the charges prior to the last general election. With 15 months before penalties for the non-payment of water charges can be imposed, Labour, as well as the government will incur severe penalties of their own in the form of people voting against them en masse the upcoming general election.

“Irish people do not deserve to be treated or threatened in such a way. Water is a human right and charges must be abolished. Our citizens deserve better - to be treated with dignity and not derision by the bully boys of this government.”

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