Mary Lou McDonald calls Tanaiste a 'wimp' in heated Dail exchange
Ms McDonald accused Ms Burton of refusing to say if she supported Government plans to deduct water charges from social welfare payments and wages.
The Sinn Fein deputy repeatedly asked the Tanaiste for her views on the controversial move to put attachment orders on people's income and when Ms McDonald did not get a response she said: "you're a wimp".
It was revealed on Tuesday that water charges will be automatically deducted from salaries, pensions and social welfare payments if householders refuse to pay their bills.
The Government plans to introduce tough new rules which will allow judges to order employers, pension funds and the Department of Social Protection to take the unpaid charge directly from income in the event of non-payment.
The measures will be set out in legislation going to Cabinet in the coming weeks and come after a weekend protest against water charges in Dublin attended by tens of thousands.
It is understood that protections will be in place for those on very low incomes where the money cannot be drawn if it would cause undue financial hardship - existing rules mean that social welfare payments to an individual cannot drop below €186 per week.