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Publish findings of the Joint Working Group on Mobile charges - Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA

9 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA has called on the two governments to disclose when they will publish the findings of the Joint Working Group (JWG) set up to investigate means to eliminate inadvertent mobile phone roaming charges.

Mitchel Mc Laughlin said:

"On 30 March 2004 Dermot Ahern, the then Minister at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in the 26 Counties, issued a set of policy directions to ComReg the southern regulation body with a specific goal in relation to address roaming charges. This goal was to minimise roaming and other charges on the island of Ireland for mobile phone users.

"Furthermore, on 19 May 2004, both Dermot Ahern and Barry Gardiner, Direct Rule Minister at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in the North, issued a joint statement in which they welcomed the setting up of the Joint Working Group and expressed their concern about the continuing high costs of mobile tariffs and data transfer "which act as a barrier to all-island business and are an irritation to consumers."

"Given that almost two years have passed since these commitments by the relevant Ministers I would call on the Departments to now state when they intend to publish the JWG findings and to give a timeframe for implementation of any proposals the Group has made to alleviate this continuing problem for mobile users.

"As expressed by Dermot Ahern and Barry Gardiner these charges ‘act as a barrier to all-island business’ but they also are a major burden on regular consumers who pay the bulk of these charges and particularly on those who are on a pre-paid format.

I know that the Regulators are both of the opinion that this issue needs to be resolved and I will be meeting with them jointly next week at which time I will be pushing for an early decision . "

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