It’s never been so good for Northern Ireland’s rich club

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While the rest of us are slaving away to make end’s meat and facing the brunt of the ‘credit crunch’. We are continually told by our political rulers to be ‘competitive’ for the bosses waiting for the promised ‘trickle-down effect’ that never arrives. Staggering rises in energy prices above the rate of inflation, imposition of un-wanted water charges while hundreds of people die every year due to ‘fuel poverty’ it seems the North elite rich club have never had it so good according to the latest Sunday Times rich list. There is now a record of 61 people from the north among Ireland’s richest 250 and they are getting richer! Last year their wealth increased to a combined £10.7 billion! On top of the list like every year is Fermanagh’s Sean Quinn worth about £3.7 billion, who does allot of dealing in insurance and property market. Alright for some eh?

Meanwhile, surprise, surprise! Northern Ireland Water Company set up under Go-Co designed(owned by the Department of Regional Development but its legal status is a private company) to pave the way for privatisation have been caught out again! This time local bosses holding a party bash to pat themselves in the back for screwing us over. According to a report from the Belfast Telegraph 23/04/08) over £8,000 was spent on the party at a luxury hotel, on the menu included birthday branding such as balloons and banners. Special Guest chief executive of Northern Ireland Water ltd Kathryn Bryan led proceedings slicing the birthday cake. Not bad for someone who is earning £150,000 a year plus bonuses! All this comes on the back of recent scandals involving Northern Ireland Water.

In March we learnt that there was about £18 million deficit caused by an over-estimation of water consumption by businesses leaving us to pick up the shortfall by adding around £30 to every household on top of average charge of £145 excluding what we already pay in our rates. In addition it appears complaints against NIW have also rocketed to over 10,000 in its first year in operation according to the Irish News (19/01/08). In recent months NIW was also fined  a ridiculous £100 for polluting Colin Glen River and the River Lagan with untreated sewerage. Its begs the question what else does the Northern Ireland Water ltd and their pals at Stormont have in store for us whenever we still have nearly a year left to their introduction? If the privatisation of water supplies in England is anything to go by we are in for a shock in which households in some regions have to pay up to a £1000 annually.

Let’s make sure they have no party to celebrate when the water charges come through our letter-box next April! We have already witnessed the recent cosmetic exercise by the Stormont Government to add the additional water charge to our rates to avoid the threat of mass-non-payment and then getting themselves tied up in a legal wrangle by learning that they cannot collect the charges through the rates on behalf of a private company. Only by setting up local groups in every street, estate and community based on mass non-payment can we defeat double taxation and privatisation.

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