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Sinn Féin meet Water Service Chief

2 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Regional Development Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney will lead a party delegation to meet with the Water Service Chief, today, Tuesday 2nd November at 11am Northland House, Frederick Street, to outline Sinn Féin's concerns in relation to the ongoing 'reform' and proposed introduction of the water charges due to commence in April 2007.

Speaking after the meeting Mr McCartney said:

"Today's meeting is part of our campaign to expose the reality that water service reform is being carried forward without due consideration to its adverse impact. Water Charges will create greater hardship and lead to greater risks of poverty and deprivation for many people.

"Ratepayers in the North of Ireland have contributed to water and sewerage services through their domestic rates. It is estimated that some 37% of the average rates bill contributes towards water / sewerage services.

"People in the Six Counties earn less and have a higher cost of living than elsewhere in the England, Scotland or Wales. On average 21% of households here exist on key benefits as opposed to 13% in England. 25% of the population in the North lives on less than £97 a week and 50% of the North's population lives on less than £200 per week.

"Despite the commitment to Tackling Social Need (NTSN) and designation of Section 75 groups there is a genuine sense that the reform agenda will lead to greater levels of water poverty and push deprived households and vulnerable groups further and further towards abject poverty.

"Government departments are operating a carte blanche ethos in relation to high level strategies which impact on every aspect of socio-economic life. This type of governance-by-proxy reinforces the need for our elected representatives to engage now on these key issues and to revive the Executive so that an accountable Assembly takes key decisions so that the public have maximum input into the political process." ENDS

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