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Mobilisation of popular opinion essential in demand for return of Assembly

27 October, 2006


Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has said that the mobilisation of civic society and popular opinion is essential in the run up to the November deadlines for the return of the Assembly, power-sharing Executive and all-Ireland institutions so that local politicians can make the decisions on key issues such as Water Charges.

His comments came after 16 organisations including the Help the Aged and the Ulster Farmers Union urged local politicians to ensure that it is the Assembly and not direct-rule Ministers that decides on how we manage and pay for our water after the Consumer Council met with the Stormont 'Preparation for Government' committee.

The Preparation for Government Committee also unanimously passed a motion calling for the deferment of the Water Charges legislation and Sinn Féin specifically inserted the demand for the publication of the negotiations between Peter Hain and the British Treasury in 2005 that paved the way for the current legislation.

Commenting on the letter Mr McLaughlin said:

"Martin McGuinness met with Peter Hain on October 17th at urged him to take the legislation on Water Charges off the table. We also made it clear that it should be locally accountable politicians that deal with the highly sensitive issue of Water Charges. However, Sinn Féin are very concerned that this legislation will still be progressed as an Order in Council.

"It is welcome that the economic sub-committee unanimously agreed to a resolution calling for the deferment of this legislation including the specific Sinn Féin demand for the publication of details of the 2005 deal between Peter Hain and the British Treasury.

"Sinn Féin believe that the voice of civic society and popular opinion is essential in the run up to the deadline for the return of the institutions and welcome the mobilisation of a range of organisations and groups around not just the issue of water charges but also the demand that local politicians ensure that the institutions are back up and running before the November deadlines." ENDS

Note to Editors

The Consumer Council met the Preparation for Government Committee at Stormont and presented the committee with a letter calling for local politicians to take the decision on Water Charges from a range of business, voluntary, trades union and environmental organisations signed by:

The Consumer Council

Advice NI

Age Concern

Citizens Advice NI

Friends of the Earth

Help the Aged

NICVA

NI Environmental Link

NILGA

Voluntary Service Bureau

Confederation of British Industry

Federation of Small Business

Institute of Directors

NI Chamber of Commerce

ICTU

Ulster Farmers Union

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