Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Water Charges - Cross Party approach could kick-start way forward

18 January, 2006

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Water Charges, Regional Development spokesperson, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said that the cross party conference organised tomorrow by the Trade Union Amicus is an opportunity for all political parties to work in a cohesive and determined way to end the imposition of the Water Charges.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Sinn Fein deputy Assembly group leader, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan said:

"This conference organised by Amicus represents an opportunity to develop a co-ordinated and strategic approach in stemming the so-called 'reform' agenda, which will see the introduction of water charges and deal with the real issue of privatisation.

"Sinn Féin remains totally opposed to this double tax, and committed to safeguarding the rights and entitlements of public sector employees. The conference holds the scope for everyone to discuss and exchange ideas on how force direct rule ministers to realise that these charges are unwarranted. Householders have been paying for water and sewerage via the domestic rating system for many years. This is an opportunity for the main political parties to support the withdrawal of the proposed water charges.

"This conference should also act as a catalyst for all political parties to engage and work towards representing the broad range of socio-economic issues which impact enormously on many people's lives.

"Recent research found that even with the proposed rebates system that 22% of households would be plunged into water poverty as defined by the Department for Regional Development itself. Almost 2/3 of the poorest 20% of households in the north would face water poverty.

"The levels of protection proposed by the Minister offer no guarantee to vulnerable groups, that water poverty will not become an endemic problem.

"Since these controversial charges are opposed by all the main political parties and by the people we represent it makes common sense that the forum these major decisions demand is the Assembly. I am urging all the parties, particularly the DUP to show leadership and take responsibility, to utilise the time and space ahead to dispose of Direct Rule and take their place with us and others in a resurrected Executive and Assembly so that we can plot a sensible way out of this mess created by Direct Rule Ministers." ENDS

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