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Sinn Féin back demand for action on mobile phone roaming charges

29 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA welcomes British Secretary of State, Peter Hain's demand for further action from the mobile phone companies operating on the island of Ireland to end inadvertent roaming charges.

Mitchel Mc Laughlin said;

"I have been meeting on a regular basis with the Mobile Phone Regulators North and South regularly to have this issue resolved. I have also met directly with some of the providers.

"I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Hain that for too long mobile phone customers, north and south, have had to pay out unfair and unjustifiable fees just for making or receiving a call while travelling on the island of Ireland.

"I am encouraged by the advances on the issue by most of the Southern based providers but I cannot say the same for the Northern providers as only O2 have to date made significant moves to address this injustice. But even the advances made by the providers to date do not comprehensively tackle the issue and I don't believe that the Direct Rule Minister, Angela Smith or the 26 County Minister Noel Dempsey have been proactive enough in demanding resolute action by the Service Providers to eliminate this problem.

"Rather than echoing the comments of his junior Minister about how much progress has been made, Peter Hain should issue a deadline for voluntary all-Ireland tariffs. Failure to comply should result in compulsory tariffs being imposed. Noel Dempsey should issue a similar ultimatum in the South. It is clear that the Providers, in order to maximise profits, will procrastinate as long as they can, even up to the time that the EU brings in regulations. It is up to the two governments to ensure they are not permitted to do this.

"I believe that without Government intervention the Service Providers will continue to move piecemeal until the EU moves to take legal action against them, probably in the autumn. The governments should move now and insist on the scrapping all roaming charges before they are forced to do so by the EU." ENDS

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