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Fine Gael TD hits out at people 'stacking up their trolleys with drink'

Catherine Byrne said people in society have a responsibility to pay their way.

Source: Oireachtas/TheJournal.ie/YouTube

A FINE GAEL TD has questioned people “stacking up their trolleys with drink and wine” when they refuse to pay their water charges.

Catherine Byrne was speaking during today’s Dáil debate on Civil Debt Procedures Bill. The bill will allow a court to order that water charges – and other debts of between €500 and €4,000 – can be taken from people’s social welfare or earnings.

The Dublin South-Central TD was responding to criticism of the government measure by opposition TDs earlier in the debate.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the government was pushing the legislation through to give “tyrannical power to the shambles that is Irish Water”. 

But Byrne said people in society have a responsibility to pay their way and that some opposition parties “believe everything should be for free”.

She later said:

I go to the shopping centre at the weekend like most normal people. I try my best with my budget to fill it out and get what I need and I put extra things in my trolley for my children, who are all in negative equity, like many other parents out there. And I see people stacking up their trolleys with drink and wine and I can guarantee you some of them shouldn’t be stacking up their trolleys with drink and wine.

Byrne told TDs that a family of two with two children would only have to pay the equivalent of €3.07 per week to have clean water, and insisted:

Tell me that’s not value for money when I see people going into the supermarkets at the weekends and stacking their trolleys with beers and everything else and water. There’s no need for it.

Her comments were criticised by Sinn Féin TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Dessie Ellis.

Ó Snodaigh, a constituency colleague of Byrne’s, said families had been “lumbered” with new taxes by this government. He said this made it very difficult for people to budget and some had ended up “in a spiral of debt”.

Ellis accused the government of trying to “scare the people into paying the water charges”. He insisted that the coalition had failed to dampen the opposition to water charges which, he said, had become part of a wider anti-austerity sentiment.

The debate adjourned at 4pm and is due to resume next week.

Read: Joan slams social welfare fraudsters for ‘giving two fingers to their neighbours’

Read: Mary Lou says Joan Burton is ‘giving two fingers’ to the public

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Hugh O'Connell

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