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Provisions in Civil Debt Bill ‘Thatcherite’ – Ó Caoláin

3 July, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Sinn Féin TD and Health Spokesperson, spoke this morning on the Civil Debt (Procedure) Bill 2015, which he described as a measure that would “disproportionately target those on low pay and those on social welfare”.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

 “Although the Government may seek to justify this ruthless legislation, by claiming that the reforms have come off the back of recommendations from the Law Reform Commission, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the only reason the Government is seeking to push this legislation through at this point in time is to give tyrannical power to the shambles that is Irish Water.

“This Bill goes hand in hand with the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that was rushed through this chamber without proper scrutiny earlier this week.

“It goes without saying that Sinn Féin does not support the primary objective of this Bill. While we welcome the abolition of imprisonment for debtors who can’t pay, the provisions in the rest of the Bill are Thatcherite.

“This Bill reads like a stereotypical school-canteen bully sketch. It conjures up the image of a big bully boy coming along and turning a smaller child upside down to shake every last cent of lunch money from his or her pocket.

“Sinn Féin believes that this option is going to again disproportionately target those on low pay and those on social welfare.

 “Sinn Féin does support the second aim of this Bill today. We agree with the recommendations from the Law Reform Commission to provide for the abolition of imprisonment of debtors except in the case of maintenance arising from family law. It is in line with international best practice and human rights.

“We will not support this Bill as it is now presented. This Bill must be amended to delete all sections which advocate the flawed approach to the recovery of debt in such an adversarial way. It is not the way forward.” 

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