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DUP No show at Water Charges Conference indicative of their failure to show required leadership

19 January, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has today accused the DUP of 'failing to represent some of the people who will be hit hardest by any future introduction of water charges in the north'.

Mr McGuigan made his comments after the DUP failed to turn up to a joint conference sponsored by the Trade Union Amicus in North Belfast this morning to discuss the British Government inspired water charges. Sinn Féin MLA Kathy Stanton also attended today's meeting.

Speaking today Mr McGuigan said:

"Today's meeting offered union officials and the political parties the unique opportunity to form a collective and strategic position in relation to the overwhelming opposition to the double tax proposals. If we are serious about challenging British Direct Rule then a cross party approach to this issue is required.

"Therefore it is extremely disappointing that the DUP failed to show up to today's conference to discuss ways in which this double taxation can be defeated by political parties, trade unions, the general public and others in the coming months. Those who will be hit hardest by the water rates will be people from already marginalised backgrounds and communities and judging by today's no show, the DUP seem content to allow this to happen.

"Sinn Féin stands clearly against the introduction of water charges. Our rejection of this imposed system is crystal clear - people already pay for water and sewerage and have been doing so for years via the domestic rating system. Mr Hain and the Regional Development Minister, Shaun Woodward are not concerned about the adverse social and economic impact these proposals will bring.

"The water charges are yet another example of the cost of direct rule with fly by night British Ministers making decisions on behalf of local people, to the detriment of local people." ENDS

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