Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Water charges not essential and definitely not fair

5 April, 2005


Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy has accused direct rule Finance Minister Ian Pearson of blatant dishonesty and rejected claims that water charges are essential and fair. Mr Molloy, who heads the party anti-water charges campaign said:

"Ian Pearson can't seem to stop himself from being dishonest about water charging. The truth is that there is nothing essential about a separate water charge. There is nothing in the EU Water directive that demands it and there is no evidence to suggest that it will lead to improved investment or improved services.

"Indeed evidence from around the world shows that the introduction of a separate water charge is often a precursor to privatisation, to savage year on year inflation busting increases and to the generation of huge profits for water companies that then often use them to subsidise other business activities.

"The comparison with local taxation in England, Scotland or Wales is disingenuous because a there is no comparison between the services provided at local government level.

"The reality is that people living here are taxed by the British Exchequer at the same rate as people living in Britain yet for decades have received lower levels of investment in not just our water and sewerage infrastructure but across all public services. Just because they were stupid enough to privatise water in Britain does not mean that we have to suffer. We only have to look at the very high-energy costs that we have here in comparison with elsewhere to see what privatisation of essential utilities means for us.

"Ian Pearson is also manipulating the figures when he argues that substantial investment in water services in Britain was not met by the Exchequer because it was. If the British government stopped lying to people and got on with delivering a real peace dividend by transferring the huge subvention into maintaining the British war machine in this part of Ireland then very quickly we would see sufficient expenditure released to invest in our crumbling infrastructure.

"It is a myth that these charges will be fair, they won‚t. Those least able to afford it will be hit hardest. Pearson should stop listening to the spin doctors in Downing Street and start listening to the people here and then he would see that there are many alternatives to water charges."ENDS

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