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Contentious law allowing water charges to be taken from dole passed by Seanad

The bill will allow a court to order that water charges – and other debts – can be taken from people’s social welfare or earnings.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE SEANAD HAS passed the controversial Civil Debt Procedures Bill, which will allow unpaid bills – including water charges – to be taken from wages and social welfare payments.

It now goes to Áras an Uactaráin to be signed by President Michael D Higgins.

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.

Debates on the legislation have prompted angry scenes in Leinster House: earlier this month, Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne landed herself in hot water when she questioned people “stacking up their trolleys with drink and wine” when they refused to pay their water charges.

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”.

Welcoming the passage of the Bill today, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald noted that “it also abolishes imprisonment  of debtors and fulfils a commitment made in the Programme for Government in this regard”.

“This is an important milestone,” she said.

Read: Irish Water denies cold calling people who have not paid their bills

Read: ‘Government need a 50% compliance rate’ to make Irish Water work

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