Friday 22 September 2017

Five water charge protesters jailed amid chaotic scenes in court

Pictured from left to right: Bernie Hughes of McKelvey Avenue, Finglas; Damien O'Neill of Greenwood Park in Coolock; Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack; Derek Byrne of Streamville Road, Donaghmede. Not pictured: Michael Batty of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny
Pictured from left to right: Bernie Hughes of McKelvey Avenue, Finglas; Damien O'Neill of Greenwood Park in Coolock; Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack; Derek Byrne of Streamville Road, Donaghmede. Not pictured: Michael Batty of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Five water charges protesters have been jailed after being found in contempt of court amid chaotic scenes at the Criminal Courts of Justice.

The court was told that the seven Dubliners had previously been ordered not to go within 20 metres of contractors installing water meters and not to interfere with the entrance and exit of the company's vehicles.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said five of the protesters “were each in contempt” for having come within the 20-metre exclusion zone set up around water installation works by order of the Court on November 5th 2014.

They are Damien O'Neill of Greenwood Park in Coolock; Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack; Bernie Hughes of McKelvey Avenue, Finglas; Michael Batty of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny and Derek Byrne of Streamville Road, Donaghmede.

Ms Hughes, Mr Batty and Mr Byrne were today each sentenced to 28 days in prison.

Mr O'Neill and Mr Moore were sentenced to 56 days in prison.

Bernie Hughes
Bernie Hughes
Paul Moore
O’Neill (Damien) Irish Water protesters before the High Court accused of breaching its orders, High Court, Dublin Pic: Courtpix
Anti-water charges protester Derek Byrne. Photo: Mark Condren

Following sentencing, Ms Hughes shouted: "That's disgraceful".

Before sentencing began shortly after 2.30pm, Mr Byrne addressed over 50 supporters who had gathered in Court 22.

"Now, I don't want to see any tears," he said.

"You won't see tears, you'll see cheers," someone replied.

"Whatever happens here we've already won," he continued.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said the actions of the defendants amounted to harassment and intimidation of the workers.

The video evidence reveals that the protests are being carefully orchestrated and the actions of the defendants was designed to "generate and provoke civil disobedience."

"It is a situation where there are a distinct small group of people, some of whom are not before the court, and are unknown to the court, who persistently move in and around the workers who are attempting to install water meters."

They "manhandled equipment" and effectively try to "impede their work at every twist and turn", he added

"It is both unfair and cowardly that the workers who are installing metres are subjected to ongoing harassment and intimidation on a daily basis."

At an earlier sitting, Mr Justice Gilligan said he was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that two protesters, Mark Egan of Tonlegee Drive, Raheny; and Richie Larkin of Mount Olive Road, Kilbarrack, were in breach of the court's order and accordingly the application for relief against them was refused.

Having told Mr Egan and Mr Larkin they were “free to stand down” the pair thanked the court and left the dock to loud and prolonged applause.

All were in court apart from Mr Batty who, the court was told, needed to be in a dry and sunny climate due to chronic asthma.

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