A protest will be held outside NI Water in Belfast on Monday 3 January to demand emergency action to guarantee the immediate reconnection of water to homes.
2pm Monday 3 January
NI Water Northland House, 3-5A Frederick St, Belfast
Protest organisers Pat Lawlor and Paddy Meehan of the Socialist Party 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 peoples 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 happen.
Water charges agenda - a new low
"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 and with domestic rates due to rise by 8% over the next four years we will be paying even more for water."