Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/652/10870
Northern Ireland water crisis: Privatisation agenda wrecks service utility
A PROTEST was held outside Northern Ireland Water in Belfast on Monday 3 January to demand emergency action to guarantee the immediate reconnection of water to homes.
Protest organisers Pat Lawlor and Paddy Meehan of the Socialist Party, Northern Ireland, explained: "40,000 homes have been without water, some now for weeks. NI Water bosses have completely failed to provide what is a fundamental service. There are serious health risks emerging since people cannot wash themselves nor heat their homes. The scenes of streams of people with buckets collecting water from the River Lagan in Belfast are disgraceful.
"This crisis has occurred as a result of the agenda to privatise the water service. NI Water was designed to become a privately-owned company. Two thirds of water staff were laid off and private companies have been running much of our water service for many years now. These companies' priorities are to make profits rather than providing a service to meet people's needs. NI Water should be scrapped and the service should be brought entirely back into the public service. Private companies should be removed from the water service and staff should be re-employed to deal with the wreckage NI Water bosses have caused.
"Ultimately, responsibility for this crisis lies with the Assembly Executive and the Minister for Regional Development. They have stood by and allowed this crisis to happen.
"It is shameful that some elements in the media and politicians have used this crisis to push the agenda of water charges while so many people are in distress. They have no support for water charges. We already pay for water [through council charges] and with domestic rates due to rise by 8% over the next four years we will be paying even more for water."
In The Socialist 5 January 2011:
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party review