Fred Cobain MLA, Chair of the Regional Development Committee at Stormont, told BBC reporter, Jim Fitzpatrick, “Decisions need to be taken around whether we don’t pay for water, then we can’t have proper schooling, we can’t have proper investment in health , we can’t tackle unemployment, or poverty or pensions issues, all of that”
Responding to the statement by the Ulster Unionist MLA, Mr Meehan said: “Mr Cobain knows fine well that we do pay for water. He is arguing that we should pay twice for water and is attempting to blackmail ordinary people into accepting a double tax. The reality is if water charges were introduced it would not stop a single cut to other public services.”
“It is wholly unacceptable that ordinary working class people, who are already suffering under the yoke of wage cuts, rising inflation and ongoing cuts in public services should be expected to shoulder further unjustifiable double taxation for water”.
When asked by reporter Jim Fitzpatrick if the water service should remain an independent entity outside government control and introduce water charges, another member of the Regional Development Committee, Conall McDevitt of the SDLP who also took part in the broadcast, said: “I agree”.
Mr Meehan who is a member of the We Won’t Pay Campaign said: “It is quite rich of politicians representing political parties who have agreed to implement billions of pounds of cuts from public services to blame ordinary people who refuse to pay twice for water as being responsible for the cuts they are carrying out. NI Water must be put out of it’s misery and the water service brought fully back into public ownership. The private companies currently involved in the water service should be removed and the 750 workers who were let go by NI Water should be re-employed in the public sector to bring back the much needed expertise needed to provide a decent water service.”