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Water Taxes delay does not go far enough - McCartney

7 September, 2005

Commenting on Direct Rule Minister, Sean Woodward's announcement to delay the introduction of phased water charging for domestic customers until April 2007, Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Regional Development, Raymond McCartney MLA has expressed his deep sense of regret that while any postponement is to be welcomed, the Minister's proposals are still firmly fixed on the introduction of the water tax which is part of the British Government's agenda to privatise essential public services in the north of Ireland.

Mr Mc Cartney said:

"While I am relieved that the proposed charges have been postponed until April 2007, the fact remains that the issue of introducing this double taxation is scandalous. The Minister states that in his opinion the case for introducing the charge remains a strong one. What perturbs me about the recent statement, is that the rationale and logic by the British Direct Rule Minister is woolly and negligent. Mr.Woodward points to the fact while health and education continue to be squeezed on a fiscal basis, the imposition of the 'water and sewerage charge' is essential to raising the levels of resources required for public services.

"His solution to all of this is the transforming of the Water Service as we know it into a Government Owned Company (Go-Co), which would become a corporate profit making entity in its own right thereby inflicting more hardship on those already suffering under the cuts in education and health. Sinn Fein is committed to opposing the imposition of this additional burden on an already overburdened ratepayer.

"I have no doubt that if Mr.Woodward were to impose charges on his own constituents of St.Helens South on Merseyside for a public service that the are already paying for through rates he would find himself fighting for his political life at the next election. Unfortunately Mr Woodward knows that he will not have to answer to the electorate here for his arrogance."

Mr.McCartney concluded that: "while unionist politicians bandstand in a competition for the anti-Agreement vote the entire population of the North is being bled dry by the incompetence of British politicians on day release from their own constituencies. It's time that all parties delivered on their manifesto promises to oppose this double taxation by returning the decision making process back to the control of a locally accountable administration without delay.

"Sinn Féin has long argued for an aggressive capital works programme funded from central government to redress decades of neglect by successive British Administrations. Sinn Fein will continue to work tirelessly towards that objective and of preserving the public ownership of this utility. All efforts must be made to stopp these taxes from being introduced." ENDS

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