Mary Lou McDonald calls Joan Burton a ‘wimp’ in Dáil row over water charges

Sinn Féin deputy leader challenges Tánaiste on collection of unpaid charges

 Mary Lou McDonald said it seemed Labour was about to become Irish Water’s debt collector. Photograph: Eric Luke

Mary Lou McDonald said it seemed Labour was about to become Irish Water’s debt collector. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald described Tánaiste Joan Burton as a “wimp’’ after claiming she failed to say if she supported the deduction of unpaid water charges from people’s wages or social welfare payments.

Amid heated Dáil exchanges, Ms McDonald insisted that Ms Burton was not answering the question.

“I wish the Tánaiste to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’,’’ said Ms McDonald. “Do you support the plan for attachment orders?’’

The reply from Ms Burton, who was seated, was inaudible. “Your’re a wimp,’’ said Ms McDonald.

Earlier, Ms McDonald said it seemed Labour was to become Irish Water’s debt collector, “sticking your hand into the pockets of families who are struggling to provide for their children or to pay their mortgage or rent’’.

Cash-strapped families

Ms Burton said she supported Mr Kelly’s work “in actually bringing a proper investment plan and structure for water development in this country’’.

Ms McDonald said 80,000 people had marched through the streets of Dublin on Saturday against the charges. Minister of State Kevin Humphreys remarked: “It was 20,000.’’

Ms McDonald said those in the march had come from every constituency with a clear message: to scrap the charges and call a general election.

She said Labour had sent in Mr Kelly, “Portroe’s own Paulie Walnuts, to put the squeeze on families with nothing to give’’.

Ms Burton said Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams could be described as “Uncle Junior in The Sopranos’’. More than 1 million people had signed up with Irish Water, she said.

“What is Deputy Mary Lou McDonald saying to them, people who want to see a proper water system in Ireland and an end to the scandal of more than 40 rivers and lakes being polluted by raw sewage?’’ Ms Burton said.

She said her priority was the people who wanted to see safe and health water.