Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Privatisation Agenda comes out into the open

20 August, 2004

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew commenting on the contents of leaked correspondence between NIO Ministers and British Treasury officials about the introduction of water charges has said that the privatisation agenda is now out in the open.

Ms Gildernew said:

"From day one it was clear that the introduction of water charges was the first step in the process of privatising our water services. Direct rule Ministers have been dishonest in the handling of the consultation process. It was clear from the very narrow terms of the first consultation process that the NIO and British Treasury had made up there mind that there were going to introduce the water tax to make the water services a more attractive option for privatisation.

"Water taxes and increased rates are inextricably linked to the privatisation agenda of the British Labour Party and a logical part of the Reform and Reinvestment Initiative so eagerly accepted by some members of the previous Executive, particularly David Trimble and Mark Durkan. At the time Sinn Féin warned that the RRI would lead to water taxes, huge increases in rates and privatisation of public services. It appears that that analysis has unfortunately proved to be correct.

"The NIO have failed to put in place the funding our public services require for decades and this has created a huge deficit that the NIO are now attempting to force us to pay. It is wrong to force people in the Six Counties to pay for the failure to invest in our infrastructure and services.

"Sinn Féin will make sure that financial issues are dealt with in the September talks. The NIO and British Treasury should be warned that they will face concerted pressure to rethink their position on water charges, privatisation and the entire issue of the finances. While the SDLP and UUP settled for the RRI, Sinn Féin will settle for nothing less than a real and substantial Peace Dividend." ENDS

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