'Minister Alan Kelly is like Nelson from the Simpsons', claims TD
Environment Minister Alan Kelly has been accused of acting like Simpsons cartoon character Nelson and “threatening to rob people’s lunch money” by an anti-water charges TD.
The bizarre comment was made by Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy who was referring to the prospect of the sums for unpaid water bills being taken directly from people’s pay packets or social welfare payments.
Mr Kelly indicated earlier this week that attachment orders will be introduced on such income for those refusing to pay water charges.
Speaking in the Dail, Mr Murphy accused the minister of “swaggering around the place like Nelson from the Simpsons, threatening to rob people’s lunch money”.
He also warned that deducting unpaid water bills from social welfare or wages could create problems with the EU.
Mr Murphy said that the Revenue has powers of direct deduction to pick up unpaid debts but that giving Irish Water such powers would raise doubts about its separation from government.
This could disqualify it from raising investment funds off the government books.
The anti-water charge campaigner argued that giving Irish Water powers comparable to those of the Revenue could mean it would fail the EU’s “market test”, which is to decide its status by the end of June.
The Taoiseach insisted he was confident that Irish Water would pass the EU’s “market test”, now delayed until June.
The Taoiseach also accused Mr Murphy and others of encouraging people to build up future debts. “It’s not a good thing for Deputy Murphy to say to people ‘Put this off’ and build up a debt as a result,” Mr Kenny said.