Government threats on water charges an ‘act of desperation’ – Stanley
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley TD said that the government resorting to threats to force people into paying their water charges was ‘an act of desperation’. He also said that it was unacceptable that people’s bank accounts, social welfare payments, wages and rent payments should be interfered with in order to meet unpaid bills.
Deputy Stanley said:
“The threat to take unpaid water charges from people’s wages and social welfare entitlements, as has been done with the Local Property Tax, was first hinted at late last year when the Government was about to introduce the Water Services legislation. The sheer scale of opposition as manifested in protests and by-elections forced the Government to back down.
“I said at the time that the so-called concessions were simply a carrot and stick approach, because the Government were terrified of the mass movement against the charges. These concessions would only last until the Government hoped the protests would abate.
“We are now seeing the stick side of the equation, in an act of desperation by Fine Gael and Labour. The Government have also cynically set a time scale so that penalties will only come into effect after the next election. However, this also gives the public the opportunity to vote for those parties which are resolutely opposed to water charges.
“I am calling on the Government to withdraw the proposals to penalise non-payers, and to get rid of this tax that does not have public support in the light of the continued huge level of opposition to these new charges.
“I am also concerned at the possible interference with rents and rental deposits in order to take unpaid water charges from tenants in rented accommodation. Unfortunately, unscrupulous landlords will try to force tenants to pay higher rents and deposits. I would hope therefore that no steps are taken to take unpaid charges from rents and deposits.”