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Rates increases rejected as undemocratic, unequal and unacceptable -McCartney

25 October, 2005

Speaking ahead of meeting with British Direct Rule Minister, Peter Hain, later this afternoon at Stormont Castle, Sinn Fein Regional Development spokesperson Raymond McCartney has criticised today's decision to increase the domestic rates by some 19%, as symptomatic of the British government's appalling role in the North of Ireland.

Mr McCartney said: " Today's decision should reveal to householders in the North that if this is part of a radical reform programme that Peter Hain, and his current NIO cohorts are embarked on, given that people already pay more for goods and services, such as electricity, foodstuffs, clothes, electronic and white goods, with lower income levels at their disposal, how can this type of 'efficiency' exercise possibly bring the reform to our public services with this undemocratic and disparaging announcement?"

"With many households in deprived areas and the inequalities, which permeate Republican, Loyalist, Catholic and Protestant constituencies, the prospect of paying Water Charges in 2007, where will such a reform agenda end? This latest measure is set to send the North on a path which will send many households into not only water poverty, where we have fuel poverty levels on the rise, but also further and further into abject poverty levels".

The Foyle Assembly Member will be part of a delegation including all the political representatives from the Foyle constituency, which is due to meet with Peter Hain later this afternoon, to discuss the blatantly obvious economic bias shown towards Belfast centric policy makers within the NIO.

" If we are to create a world class economy, then it makes economic sense that as a region the Six County economy does not hold the potential to develop a long term sustainable, viable, economic vision. The obvious solution, which is widely accepted by economists, is the establishment of an All Ireland economic unit, which will create the conditions for short, medium and long-term growth. An economy free from British inference, where GDP, inward investment, social economy enterprises, rural and urban Ireland will be able to carve out a new, modern and truly forward looking economy, where regional disparity and the privatisation agenda will not be considered as a given. The restorations of political institutions are more relevant now than ever before". ENDS

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