Friday 17 November 2017

TD Catherine Byrne claims her children were abused online after she hit out at those not paying water bills

Catherine Byrne , Fine Gael deputy for Dublin South-Central Credit: Tom Burke
Catherine Byrne , Fine Gael deputy for Dublin South-Central Credit: Tom Burke

David Kearns

A Fine Gael TD claims she has been subjected to campaign of abuse online after she criticised people for spending money on cigarettes and alcohol but not water charges.

Catherine Byrne said she had contacted “the proper authorities” after abusive comments were made on Twitter and Facebook about herself and her family.

“I’m not going to debate this issue on public radio but I will say that I’ve been in touch with the proper authorities over these vile comments made against my family,” she told RTE’s Liveline.

Read More: 'My child might be better off an orphan' - Lone parents protest welfare cuts

Speaking in the Dáil last Friday during a debate on laws allowing for unpaid water bills to be taken from wages and welfare payments, Deputy Byrne said people who spent money on luxuries but refused to pay their bills needed to think again.

“People can't get out of an obligation to pay a bill for a service they need,” said the Dublin South–Central representative.

“This bill is about taking responsibility for being a civic person living in the society that we live in.”

Read More: Tánaiste to enforce lone parent changes despite childcare fears

Defending her Dáil comments, Ms Byrne told RTE’s Liveline this afternoon that: “I wasn’t saying everyone is doing it but there are those out there who are protesting who could afford to pay their bill but just don’t want to.

“I was not attacking lone parents or those on social welfare as some people have claimed, I was calling out those who simply refuse to pay their bills when they use a service they need and can afford to pay for.

“What’s disturbed me about of all this, is that people have taken my comments out of context and use them to attack me and my children.”

Deputy Byrne said she had been subjected to a “tide of abuse online” since she made her comments in the Dáil, and that much of it had focused on her children.

“I will do as much as I can to protect them, as they are my flesh and blood.

“I’m a public representative, so I’m use to this kind of abuse but my family, my children, have done nothing to deserve to be targeted as they have.”

Read More: Joan Burton deflects lone parent jibe that she's making families 'poorer to make them richer'

Speaking in support to the Government’s controversial cuts to the One Parent Family Payment, Deputy Byrne said the changes were in the “best interest of lone parents.”

“All the money that has gone into the social welfare hasn’t changed anything, Ireland remains one of the worst country’s in Europe for child poverty.

"Lone parents now have the opportunity to get back into training and education, and as everyone knows, the only way you escape poverty is through education."

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