Stephen Farry MLA stated: “The Alliance Party is not part of the Stormont Executive. It would be easy for us be a populist opposition. However, we are honest and responsible in what we do. This is more than we can say about some parties in government.
“Alliance has been open and honest about water charges throughout. In our 2007 Assembly Manifesto, we emphasised that we wanted to avoid a situation where an additional, unfair tap tax was introduced. In particular we highlighted the urgent need to address the £1billion annual cost of managing a divided society.
“In our 2007 manifesto we said that if charges had to be considered, they should be transparent, and be based on usage and ability to pay. Water charges based on the value of property do not reflect different levels of household income. They also fail to reflect usage of water or encourage conservation. Why should a pensioner living alone pay the same as a family of four adults living next door?
“Alliance believes that the people of Northern Ireland are sensible and realistic. They expect the same directness from their politicians and they expect fairness and transparency.
“The cheap populism of the Executive over the past few years has already undermined our public services and wasted opportunities to modernise our economy. Now with the economic crisis and the huge pressure on public expenditure, water charges are back on the agenda, without any improvements in how they will be levied.
“Some parties are think they are great at pointing out holes in the budget, but they aren’t very good at coming up with ideas. In the absence of creative thinking, we face deep cuts in our already over-stretched public services.
“Alliance has consistently called for the Executive to address the estimated £1 billion cost of division, which even in this crisis they refuse to confront. This is the real challenge for our economy.”