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Plan to take water charges from wages a 'bullying' tactic - Murphy

It’s understood enhanced compliance measures are being considered by the government.

Updated 10.15pm

ANTI-AUSTERITY ALLIANCE TD Paul Murphy has described reports that Irish Water may be able to deduct unpaid charges directly from a person’s wages or social welfare, as a “bullying and intimidation” tactic.

According to The Irish Times tonight, the enhanced compliance measures being considered by Environment Minister Alan Kelly could see the introduction of attachment orders for those who don’t pay.

Similar measures are in place for those who fail to pay the Local Property Tax. However, Irish Water would still have to go to court to get an order to deduct from someone’s wages or welfare payments.

Murphy said no-one other than Revenue had the power to deduct payments at source, and stressed “the process would require going to court at least once”.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in answer to a parliamentary question in February that no cases relating to the Household Charge (the pre-cursor of the Local Property Tax) had yet been brought before the courts.

New measures

It’s not yet clear if new measures being prepared by Government will be in place by the time the first water bills are sent out, over the next few months.

Speaking earlier, Minister Kelly said there would be “enforcement” for anyone who refuses to pay.

“The legislation will be there to deal with that”, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

There will be a distinction between those who can’t or have difficulty in paying, and those who refuse to pay.

Minister Kelly said he would be discussing the issue with his Cabinet colleagues in the coming weeks.

Tens of thousands took to Dublin’s streets at the weekend in the fourth major Right2Water national day of protest.

“I appreciate the right of everyone to protest,” Kelly said.

I’ve done enough of it myself.

“Of course there will always be people who have concerns, and I respect those,” he continued.

I’ve always said that certainly mistakes were made in the setting-up of this. I believe that the Government has reacted to that, and the people are coming with us.

Kelly dismissed the criticism of water charges as “double taxation”, noting that many services are funded by the Government and taxpayer.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening, Murphy said tonight’s report showed the Government didn’t have “any carrots left” and was resorting to the ‘sticks’ of “bullying intimidation and fear”.

He said the protest at the weekend had been “very substantial”. 

The Anti-Austerity Alliance is moving a Private Members Motion in the Dáil this week, which the party says “will be the government’s last chance to scrap the charges before they are faced with a mass boycott of the bills”.

Additional reporting, Daragh Brophy.

The story of ‘NO’: 15 moments that have defined the Irish Water protest movement >

Read: ‘Massive non-payment of this charge is vital if we want to stop this beast’ >

More: Government spin ‘now seeping into the civil service’ >

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