Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Functioning Assembly only way to deal with Water Charge threat

5 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has hit out at suggested 'equality' provisions to be implemented to protect vulnerable groups with the imposition of the Water Charges.

Peter Hain visiting a Waste Water Treatment Plant in County Down last week indicated that his colleague, Regional Development Minister Shaun Woodward would announce this week that he intends to ensure that measures are set in place to protect those households who will undoubtedly suffer further economic hardship as a consequence of water charging.

Mr McCartney said:

"Plans to impose this double taxation allows people to assess for themselves the role of the British Direct Ministers in the North. This reform agenda, which is nothing less than a cover for privatisation, will cement the levels of deprivation that many communities already experience.

"If British Direct Rule Minister believe that a series of cosmetic consultation exercises to involve key stakeholders will convince anyone then they should visit those communities who will be plunged into unacceptable levels of water poverty.

"Implying that provisions will be set in place to protect those who may have difficulty in paying for an essential public service is conceding that these proposed charges are grossly unfair.

"Sinn Fein remains committed to doing all in its power to oppose this form of increased taxation.

"The government rationale that the water charges must be imposed is bogus. European drinking water quality standards, wastewater standards and the upgrading of the sewerage network need to take place as of right. People have been paying for this through the domestic rates for years.

"Under European legislation there is no explicit directive, which states that water charging must take place in any country. Failure to comply with EC Directives will result in huge fines and possible planning embargoes due to sewerage 'hotspots'. The real reason these charges are being introduced is to transform the current Water Service into a private or Government Owned (Go-Co), which will be a profit-making organisation.

"Sinn Fein along with all the other political parties is vehemently opposed to the imposition of the water charges. The only way deal with the threat of water charges is through a functioning Assembly and Executive.

"All parties, particularly the DUP, need to engage with us and others so that the damaging influence of Direct Rule can be removed. Let us discuss openly and work together to restore the Assembly and the Executive." ENDS

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