Republican News · Thursday 20 September 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Immunity of government agencies must end

Sinn Féin Assembly member Mary Nelis has said that the fact that the Water Service enjoys immunity from prosecution is a ``failure of accountability.'' Nelis, vice chairperson of the Assembly's Culture and Leisure Committee, said that as part of the fishing inquiry being carried out by the committee, a submission was received on the quality of water, pollution and the effect on fish stocks.

Nelis said the Crown immunity from prosecution that the Water Service enjoys does not foster an environment of openness, transparency and accountability, she said: ``Given the current anger around the response of the Water Service to the outbreaks of Cryptosporidium in Belfast and the threat to the farmers' livelihoods in the Silent Valley in the Mourne Mountains and the health of people in the greater West Belfast area, I would challenge the current situation.''

Rent proposals unacceptable

Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Féin's Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member, has criticised proposals by DUP minister Maurice Morrow to raise the rents on Housing Executive properties by 2% plus the rate of GDP.

``The proposal by the minister to raise the rents will mean that Housing Executive tenants will face a rise of around 4.5% annually,'' said Gildenew. ``I am disappointed that Mr Morrow has taken the decision without first consulting with the Social Development committee.''

The minister is likely to face cross party opposition to a decision that penalises the least well off sections of the community.

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