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Civil Debt Bill attacks vulnerable citizens – Adams

8 July, 2015 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has condemned the government’s Civil Debt Bill which is being debated in the Dáil this week and next.

Teachta Adams warned that the “Civil Debt Bill is a regressive piece of legislation that targets the low-paid by enabling applications to be made for attachment orders that will allow money to be taken out of wages, welfare payments and pensions to pay for water charges, credit debts and other utility bills.”

The Louth TD was speaking in the Dáil Tuesday evening and described the Bill as “further proof of the Government's tendency to legislate in favour of the well-off and against the interests of citizens”.

Teachta Adams said:

“This Government has imposed four years of austerity. Citizens in Louth and across the state now face a range of new bills for water charges, property taxes and septic tank charges. VAT bills have increased and there has been a general increase in consumption taxes. There has also been forced emigration.

“This Government has deliberately planned for a low wage economy. It is responsible for the worst trolley figures in our hospitals for more than 12 years, with 333 citizens on trolleys across the State today, including 35 at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

“There has been a general rundown of public services. The number of children living in poverty has doubled. It is estimated that 12,000 lone parent families, including many in my constituency, are facing significant cuts of up to €86 per week as a result of a decision taken by Labour Party and Fine Gael Deputies last week.

“The Government has added to this litany of bad decisions and misery by guillotining the debate on the Civil Debt (Procedures) Bill 2015 in this House.

“This is a reactionary Government's conservative response to the popular outrage at the imposition of water charges. No similar legislation has been introduced in response to corruption, white-collar crime or the despicable behaviour of the insiders in the golden circle, all of which we hear about every day.

“As a result of this Bill, families struggling to make ends meet will have their incomes reduced further. This law and the stigma attached to it will become another hurdle for people who are seeking work. It is a bad Bill for business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, which will be tasked with implementing it.

“Minister Fitzgerald said on Friday that the Bill ‘will not be directed at those who cannot pay but rather at those who can pay but choose not to’, but she knows it will be used against people in debt who cannot pay.

“However, under this law if a citizen owes money for gas, electricity, Christmas presents, a communion dress, a washing machine or beds or other furniture, creditors will be able to go to court and seek to have money taken from welfare, pensions or wages.

“This week, the Irish League of Credit Unions produced a depressing report revealing the back to school costs for parents. 80% of parents see these costs as a significant additional financial burden; with many admitting that it will negatively impact on their ability to pay household Bills and that consequently they are likely to get into debt.

“Many of the parents affected by back to school costs are likely to find themselves the target of attachment orders arising from this legislation.

“The Programme for Government claimed that: ‘Education is at the heart of a more cohesive, more equal and more successful society, and it will be the engine of sustainable economic growth’.

“However, the Civil Debt Bill will not contribute to a more equal society. On the contrary, it will penalise the most vulnerable families and children.” 

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