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Removal of water ‘domestic allowance’ will hit farmers hard

21 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson Fermanagh South Tyrone Assembly election candidate Michelle Gildernew MP has said that Water Charges will hit rural communities, particularly farmers hard and said that the only way to stop the imposition of the charge is by voting Sinn Féin.

Ms Gildernew commented:

"As someone who represents a large rural community, and having come from a rural family background, this British Direct Rule administration continues to ignore struggling rural communities in terms of sustaining and growing the agriculture sector.

"I am also very concerned at the impact of the threat to remove the domestic allowance for mixed property use by farmers.

"There is an indication that the domestic allowance will be removed totally by 2010 with a phasing out beginning in April of this year. The Minister and the Department have yet again used the cloak of consultation before any firm commitment is given to farmers as to how much they can be expected to pay.

"While there are a number of possible alternatives such as individual trough metering or a fixed charge, the certainty is that direct rule Ministers see this as an opportunity to force farmers to pay more than they are paying at present, they will be paying twice.

"While much of the media focus has been on urban areas, the fact is that, once again, policies developed by British Ministers will lead to the rural community and way of life facing further hardship. Not only has the entire exercise been proven to be shoddy at best, farmers will be eventually paying extortionate rates, and at this point in time no one seems to know how the new measures will be safeguarded or indeed how farmers will be asked to pay.

"The strongest message the electorate can send to faceless bureaucrats in London and Belfast is to vote for those who are committed to finding a different way forward. A vote for Sinn Féin is the best way to stop water charges." ENDS

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