Water charges: a step too far?

Members of Inishowen Sinn F�in (l to r, Cllr Jack Murray, Sean Ruddy, Peter Mullan, Cllr Mary Kelly, Joe Murphy, Phil McFadden, Cllr Ciaran McLaughlin, Deputy P�draig Mac Lochlainn, Paddy Doherty) launch their campaign against water charges
Members of Inishowen Sinn F�in (l to r, Cllr Jack Murray, Sean Ruddy, Peter Mullan, Cllr Mary Kelly, Joe Murphy, Phil McFadden, Cllr Ciaran McLaughlin, Deputy P�draig Mac Lochlainn, Paddy Doherty) launch their campaign against water charges
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An Inishowen branch of a political party has launched a powerful campaign against the introduction of water charges in homes nationwide.

Members of Inishowen Sinn Féin initiated the campaign at the weekend in opposition to the Government’s proposed charges.

Throughout the peninsula, party members erected billboards and delivered thousands of campaign leaflets to homes right across the county.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said he believes the taxation on water to be one step too far for many Irish families.

“People cannot afford another charge on top of the money they are already forking out. Families are already struggling to pay the Universal Social Charge, Levies, PRSI, increased fuel bills and mortgage increases.”

The Buncrana TD claims introduction of water meters is financially motivated and not about preserving the resource.

“It is also a nonsense to suggest that water charges are about water conservation when almost half our water is lost every year in Donegal through leaking pipes due to years of under investment.

“Sinn Féin activists across Inishowen and Donegal are currently distributing leaflets to homes across the county, informing people about this unjust and unfair taxation which the government is planning to introduce. We are also erecting billboards across the county voicing our opposition to the charge.”

The party are now calling on members of the public to oppose the charges and join together against the government.

“Councillors of all parties recently supported a Donegal County Council motion calling on the government to abandon this inequitable taxation. We now need to unite against this government and state loud and clear that the people of Donegal will not stand for this”.

Meanwhile Labour Senator Jimmy Harte has accused Sinn Fein in Donegal of cheap publicity stunts in their stance on the proposed water charges.

The Letterkenny-based politician described the campaign as ‘opportunist politics at its worst.”

Senator Harte said Sinn Fein have all the questions but none of the answers when it came to Donegal’s problems.

“They were quite vocal on calling for funding to fight the recent forest fires but came up with no solutions to raise the money as usual. They have opposed everything and are unable to put their money where their mouth is.

“Like many people in Donegal I wish that we could maintain the provision of domestic water through the central tax system.

“But to assert that this could realistically remain the case betrays a basic, wilful ignorance of the situation facing this country.

Sen Harte said he believes any system must be informed by the principles of fairness, of equity, of conservation and must consider the ability of householders to pay.

“It is essential that the operation of the water service in the future will not fall into private hands.

“Labour is committed to the operation of a wholly State-owned water utility that will be under democratic control, managed and delivered by the State.

“The only difference between Sinn Fein’s policy and Labour’s policy in relation to water charges is that Labour is being up front with the people and not hiding behind half-truths and evasions,” he said.