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Sinn Féin to challenge British Government on water privatisation

16 August, 2004

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has said that Sinn Féin will challenge the British government at the September negotiations over its attempts to impose Water Charges on the people of the six counties and attempts to privatise the Water Service here.

Mr McElduff said:

"The British government, through the NIO are attempting to exploit the suspension in the institutions to impose this unjustifiable charge.

"We are being told that £3 billion is now needed to bring water infrastructure up to scratch and that local ratepayers will have to fit the bill.

"However, local ratepayers have always paid for our water related services in the regional rate and the question must be asked as to where this money has gone?

"If our water service infrastructure is in such a bad state it is because the British government has re-appropriated the water component of our rates bill for some other purpose.

"Therefore, the onus should be on the British government to return this money by making a capital investment in our Water infrastructure instead of attempting to charge people again for something we have already paid for.

"Sinn Féin is also apposed to any attempts to privatise the water service here. Such a move would lead to major job losses, a deteriorisation in the service with increased bills for householders.

"Moreover, it would be disastrous for people seeking water connections in rural areas. They would have to pay an absolute fortune to get connected and it this would be totally discriminatory.

"Sinn Féin is determined to thwart the designs of the British government and NIO in regards to Water Charges and privatisation and will be making it a central issue at the negotiations in September." ENDS

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