Action on water charge defaulters yet to be decided

Delay centres on proposal to allow Irish Water deduct charges from people’s wages

Anti-water charges graffiti in Dublin. The Government has still not agreed on the measures to be taken against people who do not pay their water bills. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Anti-water charges graffiti in Dublin. The Government has still not agreed on the measures to be taken against people who do not pay their water bills. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

 

The Government has still not agreed on the measures to be taken against people who do not pay their water charges.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly is to bring an update on the proposed legislation to Cabinet on Tuesday but his spokesman said the Water Services Bill is not expected to be signed off on at the weekly meeting.

“The matter is still being discussed at the Economic Management Council and is likely to be progressed next week. No firm decisions have been taken yet,” the spokesman said.

The delay centres on the proposal to allow Irish Water to deduct charges from people’s wages and welfare payments. The introduction of attachment orders has been strongly criticised by anti-water charge campaigners.

Mr Kelly had proposed a list system under which the names of people who had not paid would be read out in court and a judgment issued against each customer.

The proposals are still with the Office of the Attorney General and there is said to be some high level political concern about them. Government sources are confident the anger over water charges has subsided and the protest has been reduced to a hardcore.

“The majority of what has been in the public domain has not changed,” a senior Government source said. “The Attorney General is examining the issue of the attachment orders. We have to get this right. Alan Kelly knows that. We have one chance, we have to get it right.”

Mr Kelly’s compliance legislation has been expected since January but has been delayed due to the ongoing concern over some of the measures.

Proposals to force landlords to deduct water charges from the deposits of tenants have been agreed after consultation with representative groups.

There is another protest planned today by the Anti-Austerity Alliance with demonstrators gathering at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin. Protesters have been asked to bring their bills with them on the march to the Dáil and rip them up or bin them.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger said: “We may have to have mock bills, so people can practice what they’ll do when the real bill does come. Most people haven’t received their bills. It has been very, very slow, certainly in the Dublin West area.”

Residents in Donegal, Navan in Co Meath and Gorey in Co Wexford were among the first 37,000 to receive bills.