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McCartney calls for unity in opposition to Water Taxes to be maintained

18 December, 2006

Speaking during the debate on the Direct Rule Minister's proposed Water Tax Sinn Féin Spokesperson, Raymond McCartney MLA said:

"All parties in the Assembly have publicly stated their opposition to water charges - and despite this united opposition - the British Direct Rule system has allowed for this opposition not only to be ignored but it permitted DRD to proceed in a way that treated public opinion with utter contempt.

"And even though legislation has now been passed through the British parliamentary system - all parties in the assembly should send a very clear message that the incoming assembly and executive will seek ways to have this legislation and its effects offset.

"Last week the Programme for Government sub group took evidence from a number of concerned groups. The testimonies provided by the Anti-Poverty Network and the Trade Unions representing Water Service workers shows the reality of the hardship that this measure will cause.

"This Assembly should also learn the lessons of rushing into initiatives like the Reinvestment & Reform Initiative without full appraisal of all possible outcomes. This Initiative promoted by David Trimble and Mark Durkan is now used by the Department and consecutive British Direct Rule Ministers as their rationale for the need to levy a charge for our water usage.

"Sinn Féin accepts that there is need for investment in our water and sewerage infrastructure but the neglect in proper investment over many years lies squarely with the British Government - and it is with this in mind that Sinn Féin has argued for the required investment to come from a Peace Dividend. That remains high on our agenda in our discussions with the British Government. I welcome the fact that there was all-party support in opposition to this double taxation. The Parties must remain united in this opposition". ENDS

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