Irish Water to get expedited court process for unpaid charges

Irish Water to get expedited court process for unpaid charges
Environment Minister Alan Kelly is expected to move on new bills within weeks.

More details have emerged of how the government intends to recoup unpaid water charges.

New laws will see Irish Water have the power to go to the District Court for an attachment order, in a process that is expected to work more quickly than regular court proceedings.

If it is granted, the order would see outstanding charges deducted from someone's salary or benefits before they are paid out.

According to newspaper reports today, the charge could also be registered against the property, so that it couldn't be sold without the debt being paid.

The Irish Examiner reports that those able to prove they are under financial pressure would be given longer to pay the charges – with a "poverty clause" to distinguish between those who cannot pay and those who refuse to pay.

The Public Expenditure Minister, Brendan Howlin, said there has to be measures in place for those who refuse to pay.

"Obviously there has to be fairness and balance in the system," he said. "If there are people who simply decide not to pay, and who are in a position to pay, that can't be allowed to stand."

"There can't be a situation where any of us decide not to pay our bills.

"If you come to a supermarket check out and decide 'I'm not paying the bill' and just walk off - that's just not the way the system works."

However, TD Paul Murphy, a vocal opponent of the water charges, accused the Government of trying to scare people.

"The impression that they want to give is that money will simply be deducted from people like happened with the property tax, like it's the Revenue," he said.

"But Irish Water is not the Revenue, they don't have the powers of the Revenue. I think it's a panicked attempt to scare people, I think people will see though it, and it will backfire on the Government."


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