New Water Charges Legislation to be rammed through Dáil next week in major abuse of legislative process

Disgraceful measures which could threaten private and council tenants with eviction for refusal to pay water charges
rbb housingIn a statement this evening, People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett slammed the government’s new legislative changes on water charges, which he says introduce extremely draconian new measures and bypass the normal legislative process.

Two bills will be rushed through the Dáil next week.

The Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2015 did not until today have any mention of water charges and had already passed though the committee stage. In a huge slight of hand and abuse of the legislative process, the government published 33 amendments today, after it was too late for any other TD to submit amendments, and which include major new measures regarding the payment of water charges.

The new amendments in the Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2015 dealing with water charges include:

  • After 2015 the €100 conservation grant will not be given to anyone who is not on a database which will be held by Irish water. The database will include any information that the Minister deems relevant.

  • Landlords will be required to pass tenants details to Irish Water

  • Tenancy agreements in rented accommodation (public and private) will be required to include an obligation to pay water charges as a condition of the tenancy. That means tenants could be evicted for not paying water charges.

  • Approved housing bodies and voluntary housing groups will be responsible for ensuring water charges are paid

  • It will be a requirement for selling a house to provide proof of having paid water charges

  • It won’t be possible to buy a council house until water charges are paid

  • Approved housing bodies and voluntary housing groups will be responsible for ensuring water charges are paid

DSC_0057The second bill, The Civil Debt (Procedures) Bill is not yet published but a note from the Oireachtas Library and Research Service has indicated that;

“Under the proposed Bill, creditors will be able to apply to Court for an order enabling the attachment of earnings or deductions from social welfare payments for the purpose of the enforcement of debt”.
Richard Boyd Barrett said,

“This is an utterly disgraceful manoeuvre to introduce extremely draconian new measures designed to coerce tenants and homeowners into paying these unjust charges and to do so by ramming though at the last minute bypassing the normal legislative process.

This is clearly aimed at trying to defeat the enormous and unprecedented mobilisation against water charges and the massive unprecedented boycott that is now underway.

It is also an unbelievably undemocratic abuse of Dail process – bringing in substantial new laws but by-passing second and committee stages to minimise proper scrutiny of the legislation by the dail and the public.

However these nasty manoeuvres will meet a response. Protests are already being  planned. People will be absolutely furious.”