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Sinn Féin urge people to back anti-water charges campaigns

25 February, 2004

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy, who is heading the party's campaign to oppose the imposition of water charges has urged people from every walk of life to join the campaign against water charges.

Speaking after attending a Belfast City Hall conference on Water Charges Mr Molloy said:

"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the introduction of the water charge. We are not alone. Opposition to water charges comes from across the political spectrum, from the voluntary and community sectors and the trade unions. Men and women from all sections of our society oppose the imposition of this form of taxation. It is unfair. The British government have failed to make the case for the water charge.

"British direct rule Ministers say there is no alternative. I disagree. We need to secure the levels of investment comparable to the money they have spent on water services elsewhere and we need to ask what was wrong with the system where payment was incorporated within the rates system with its inbuilt mechanism to protect people on low incomes.

"The British government is attempting to force the people of the Six Counties — who are already saddled with high energy costs, high living costs, high levels of low income and deprivation — to pay for the investment that the British government have refused to put into our water services to bring them up to international and European standards.

"The British government is misleading the public on this issue. They need to come clean and deliver the investment that they have delivered elsewhere to bring water services up to standard. In comparison with Scotland, England and Wales there is a deficit in direct money coming from the British Treasury of some £350 million. Instead we are forced to find £10 million here or £20 million there from within our own hard-pressed budget. It is time for the British government to pay up.

"Direct rule Ministers must listen to the people of the Six Counties, to their elected representatives and the trade unions. I urge people from every walk of life to join the campaign against water charges." ENDS

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