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Peace Dividend not Water Charges must pay for Infrastructure deficit -Doherty

19 December, 2006

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty says that in ongoing discussions with the British government, his party's negotiators are continuing to argue that the cost of the much-needed overhaul to our water and sewerage infrastructure be met through the Peace Dividend Package and not through Double Taxation Water Charges.

Speaking following yesterday's Assembly debate on the Water Charges issue the local MP said,

"The decades of neglect in terms of the absence of proper investment in our water and sewerage infrastructure lies fairly and squarely at the door of the British government and it cannot now expect to abdicate its responsibility for this neglect by attempting to impose additional Water Taxes over and above those that people in the six counties already pay for through existing rates bills.

"The Anti-poverty network has estimated that within our existing, non itemised rates bills, we all pay roughly 37% towards water and sewerage provision. The fact that the Direct Rule Minister's proposed additional water charges will be based on the value of a person's house means that we will be paying twice. This is deeply worrying and concerning for low-income households, as well as for those on benefits or in receipt of pensions. The most vulnerable in our society are being asked to help foot the bill for the failure of British Ministers to invest in our infrastructure.

"Despite this, the British government has steamrolled it's double taxation agenda through its parliamentary system so as to ensure that the burden of additional water charges will become a reality for each and every household here as and from April. In doing so, it has treated the call by all parties in the Assembly for this issue to be deferred to the re-established institutions with utter contempt. .

"Sinn Féin has consistently argued that the cost of the much-needed overhaul to our water and sewerage infrastructure must be offset as part of a Peace Dividend and not by making people here pay again for something they have already paid for but that was never put in place because funds were siphoned off elsewhere.

"This is a priority issue for Sinn Fein in our ongoing negotiations with the British government and the pressure for this "just solution" to the water and sewerage infrastructure deficit problem must be pressed from every quarter in the weeks and months ahead." ENDS

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