Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Only Executive will find a way out of Water Charge mess

25 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson, Raymond McCartney MLA, in strongly worded attack on the whole water reform agenda and those who claim to oppose its imposition has said that the only way to sort out the mess is to get a locally accountable power sharing Executive back in place without delay.

Mr McCartney said:

"Sinn Féin warned that when the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative was unveiled by David Trimble, Mark Durkan and Gordon Brown that it would open the way for a huge increase in taxes. When British Direct Rule Ministers announced their plans to impose water charges we warned that this double taxation would pave the way for privatisation.

"It is clear today that the only way we sort this mess out is when we get locally accountable ministers sitting in a power-sharing Executive.

"The DUP cannot credibly criticise any British direct rule decision because it is the DUP and the DUP alone that are holding up the restoration of the institutions. They have no more excuses for not entering into a power sharing government. Each new revelation about the DUP's involvement with Loyalism exposes their hypocrisy.

"The British Government proposals have continually ignored the public contribution towards public services for decades, through the rating system. Rising levels of in-work poverty, child poverty, fuel poverty all highlight the fact that Direct Rule is forcing more into poverty. No guarantees can be given as to the future shape, direction and ownership models of the Water Service.

"Sinn Féin have stated that with the restoration of the political institutions, that the Water Reform agenda would be immediately stalled to examine the best possible way of ensuring that people are not paying twice for a service they are currently paying for.

"The cross party consensus on many of the socio-economic issues facing our communities shows that we can work together to reach solutions on behalf of the people who have chosen elected representatives here to work in their best interests.

"This is a direct challenge to the DUP, are they prepared to sit by and watch British Direct Rule Ministers force unfair water charges and rising rates bills on households here, without taking any responsibility?

"I am also very concerned that despite the efforts of Trade Union representations and delegations, current pension, salary, grading and working conditions generally will be dictated by serving a profit-making service rather putting the public need at its core. The essence of the draft order makes provision for no meaningful regulatory and independent oversight mechanism." ENDS

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