Planned protest against water charges

Rallies against the British government’s reform of water services in Northern Ireland are to take place in Belfast and Derry on February 12, giving the people their chance to publicly voice their opposition to the planned reforms, which will make Joe Public pay for the decades of underinvestment in water infrastructure and will see the average household facing an annual charge of £115 (€166) from April 2006, rising to an average of £340 (€490) in 2008.Tom Gillen from the Water Coalition, which represents trade unions, community and voluntary groups, said the people objected to an “unfair system”.

Part of the water reforms will see the Northern Ireland Water Council, which has been providing advice to Government departments on water-related issues for over 30 years, axed.

Its report finds that domestic charges are not the only way to fund the water reform necessary.

With 70% of privatised water worldwide in the hands of just 2 companies, Vivendi and Suez, can the people of Northern really expect that any impending privatisation would not result in water being treated as a commodity rather than an essential part of human health?

If Sao Paolo and other large metropoles can run an efficient and effective publicly owned water supply, why can’t Northern Ireland?