Belfast Telegraph

Thousands take to streets in water charges protest

By David Gordon
12 February 2005

Thousands of people took to the streets of Northern Ireland today to demonstrate their anger at Government plans to introduce household water charges.

Protests were held in Belfast, Londonderry, Enniskillen and Cookstown in what a senior trade unionist called a "ratcheting up" of opposition to the looming "tap tax".

But the Department for Regional Development, which is introducing the charges, today challenged its critics over the massive funding injection needed to upgrade water and sewerage systems.

Today's rallies were organised by the Coalition Against Water Charges, which involves the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), community groups, political parties and campaign organisations.

The biggest turnout was in Belfast. Protesters assembled at the Art College to march to a rally at the City Hall.

Tom Gillen, ICTU deputy assistant general secretary, today said: "It's quite clear from our contacts with communities and politicians that there is serious concern about water charges.

A DRD spokesman today argued that the "tap tax" is needed to raise money for modernising water and sewerage services.

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