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Molloy - Sinn Féin to continue opposing introduction of water charges

3 July, 2003

Former Chairperson of the Assembly Finance and Personnel Committee, Cllr Francie Molloy speaking at the publication of Sinn Féin's response to the consultation on water reform has vowed to continue the campaign to halt the introduction of water charges.

Mr Molloy said:

"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the imposition of water charges. We see water charges as an additional tax.

"We believe that the introduction of such charges has more to do with British Treasury insistence on further taxation than EU directives or misleading comparisons with the British level of rates.

"People have already been paying for their water services for water through their rates bill.

"The terms of the debate set out in the consultation were totally unsatisfactory. There is an assumption that the introduction of a water tax is a foregone conclusion and the debate was about what mechanism will be used for paying.

"But the case has not been made that a separate direct water charge is either justified or will lead to improvements in water services or lead to a reduction in the usage or wastage of water.

"After 30 years of under investment our water and sewerage services here are drastically underdeveloped and are incapable of meeting international and European health and safety standards. The result is that we now require a major investment in our infrastructure.

"What is required is a long-term injection of public money to bring our water services up to date with stringent European legislation. Money from the EU, money from the rates and money from the British Exchequer were misused by direct rule ministers after being ring fenced by Alf Dubs.

"In short people are being expected to pay for decades of neglect on the part of successive direct rule administrations, which has resulted in the unacceptable deterioration of a critical service."ENDS

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