Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin remain focused in time ahead to tackle Water Charges

26 September, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA Francie Molloy has reaffirmed the Party's continued support to halt the imposition of the double taxation policy of the British Government as outlined in the Water & Sewerages Draft Order 2006.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance was speaking at a cross party sponsored event organised by the Consumer Council at Stormont to address key issues prior to the establishment of the new Government Owned Company (Go - Co) in April 2007.

Mr. Molloy commented:

" This morning's event allowed all of the political parties to put forward their views on key issues, such as metering, regulation, affordability, sustainability, formation of the Go-Co and crucially protecting workers rights and entitlements.

"The Water Reform agenda has managed to do one thing, unite all the political parties in voicing their opposition to such a non-democratic and unfair set of proposals.

"The Consumer Council have been a key agency in the whole water reform agenda I congratulate them on the role they have played to date in sharing information and informing consumers. I would particularly thank the Consumer Council in the organising of today's event.

"Sinn Féin have consistently outlined our stance on the introduction of a separate charge - we are vehemently opposed to this British revenue raising policy. We are constantly lectured by British Direct Rule, one day a week Ministers, that if our communities want adequate health services, better educational delivery for our children, roads, infrastructure and so on, that we must pay for it. This mantra is rhymed out despite the fact that rating reform will mean severe increases in householder bills, socio-economic deprivation not been addressed, ever rising energy costs, all set against the backdrop of slashed budgets in our roads, education and health services as things stand.

"The Sinn Féin analysis is simple, we have been paying for water and sewerage provision through the domestic rating system for decades. Why should we pay twice?

"Sinn Féin are deeply sceptical about the timing and entire roll out of this privatisation agenda. We have concerns over two key issues, which are often overlooked. One is the issue of the establishment of the Go-Co, and future sustainability of such a body. The second is the right of current water service employees to retain their status as public sector employees with all existing pay, pension and working conditions attached.

Mr. Molloy said:

"There is absolutely no guarantee whatever that the Water Service as it morphs into a Go-Co will be sustainable in the long term.

"The GoCo is to be created on commercial principles. It ( the Go-Co) will be able to simply increase the rates paid and the charges levied for a range of services currently provided by Water Service.

"The only way this can be achieved is for the service to remain a public service. Crucially, it is about ensuring that workers rights and entitlements are upheld.

"I appeal to my colleagues who attended today's event, none more so than the DUP to show leadership and responsibility, engage with all the political parties, in the first instance with Sinn Féin to revive the political institutions on the basis of equality, so that as elected representatives, we are the one's who take the decisions which lie before us, to tackle the socio-economic agenda which is failing all our communities. Sinn Féin are serious about resolving the issue of water charges - are the DUP? This issue goes right to the heart of the equality agenda. Will the DUP deny its electorate their right to equal treatment as well as the rest of us? I hope not." ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Francie Molloy is the Sinn Féin MLA spokesperson on Finance & Personnel. He has previously chaired the previous Assembly Committee on DFP. Currently, Mr Molloy is the Deputy Chair of the Preparation for Government Committee.

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