Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has slammed Government proposals to deduct Water Charges from people’s wages as “low, sneaky and cowardly”.
Speaking directly to Tánaiste Joan Burton in the Dáil, Mary Lou McDonald said:
“Tánaiste, for several months now, I have been asking you to explain how families who have borne the brunt of your Government’s austerity policies are meant to pay your unjust and unfair Water Tax.
“I have asked you directly which daily necessities you propose they forgo to prop up the discredited entity that is Irish Water. You have never once given me a straight answer to these questions.
“Now we know the reason for your reticence. All along you were planning legislation to pick-pocket people’s wages, pensions and social welfare payments.
“Your proposal is low, it’s sneaky and it is a cowardly proposition in the face of mass public opposition to your Water Tax. That such a Thatcherite policy is being introduced by Labour party Ministers makes it all the more despicable.
“It illustrates the contempt with which Fine Gael and Labour now view all those on low incomes, the working poor, the unemployed and the vulnerable. It’s an attitude best encapsulated by Minister Noonan’s comments about unemployed citizens being, in his mind, ‘allergic to work’.
“You are now seeking to turn private landlords into debt collectors for Irish Water. As a result, landlords have said they may now triple tenants’ deposits.
“You plan to raid people’s wages, pensions and welfare payments will include, you say, thresholds to ensure people are not pushed into poverty. Tánaiste, those who cannot pay and many who of those will not pay already live in poverty. Are you not aware of that?
“They are barely able to make ends meet, but you just don’t get it. And now, you propose to raid their wages, welfare or pensions and in a double whammy, to make private, rented accommodation even more unaffordable for low-income people.
“What advice do you have for all of those people? What daily necessities do you propose they forgo to pay your Water Tax?”