Article from the Feb. 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
No to water charges
We Won't Pay!
by Gary Mulcahy
MASS SUPPORT for non-payment of water charges has forced the government to delay the introduction of charges by six months. Minister Spellar in an interview in the Belfast Telegraph announced that the charges will most likely be introduced in autumn 2006, six months later than originally planned.
Last year, government Ministers listed overwhelming opposition to water charges as a factor in delaying their implementation. And it is the We Won't Pay Campaign of mass non-payment that has them truly rattled. Secretary of State, Paul Murphy was quoted last year as saying privatisation of the water service would "strengthen the hand of those who are opposing the overall water reform package and could add weight to those who are arguing for a water charge non-payment campaign".
People throughout the country are correctly saying they won't pay water charges because they already pay for water through the rates. To add insult to injury, direct-rule Ministers have announced that the regional rate is to increase by 9%, on top of water charges! That is six times the rate of inflation!
Water charges are to be based on the valuation of your house/flat. House prices have risen 262% in the past ten years, giving Northern Ireland the fastest growth rate in house prices across Britain. By contrast, wages, benefits and pensions have been held back in real terms. This means that a pensioner living on their own, in an area where housing costs have soared, could be faced with a water bill of over £600 a year.
The support for the We Won't Pay Campaign has spread. Meetings in communities across the country have brought together local activists who are signing people, estate by estate, up to the non-payment pledge. The Campaign is growing from strength to strength, with people contacting the Campaign from new areas all the time.
The determined opposition to water charges and support for mass non-payment needs to be organised through the We Won't Pay Campaign in every estate.
If you would like to get involved in your own area, contact the campaign on 07743282321
or visit the "We Won't Pay" website at www.wewontpay.tk
Earlier reports on the we won't pay campaign