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Gardai in 'Catch 22' over water meter installations

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Earlier this month the court granted an order to a water meter installation contractor, establishing a 20-metre exclusion zone where its workers were installing meters in Dublin city

Earlier this month the court granted an order to a water meter installation contractor, establishing a 20-metre exclusion zone where its workers were installing meters in Dublin city

Earlier this month the court granted an order to a water meter installation contractor, establishing a 20-metre exclusion zone where its workers were installing meters in Dublin city

A SENIOR garda has told the High Court that gardai are in a 'catch 22' situation as areas where water meters are being installed are not public areas under law, which causes a difficulty for policing protests.

Chief Superintendent Fergus Healy gave evidence yesterday in a hearing concerning three men alleged to have breached a court order not to go within 20 metres of contractors installing metres.

Earlier this month the court granted an order to a water meter installation contractor, establishing a 20-metre exclusion zone where its workers were installing meters in Dublin city.

Lawyers for GMC Sierra Ltd last week moved contempt-of-court proceedings against four protesters on grounds that they allegedly breached the '20-metre order' at locations in Dublin 7 and Dublin 13. A motion against a fourth man was struck out.

Jim O'Callaghan SC, for GMC Sierra, said breaches had continued.

A worker was allegedly struck by a van, a known protester "kneed a worker in the face" and protesters breached the 20-metre safety zone, it alleged.

It was not claimed that any of the three men, allegedly in breach of the order, had engaged in this violence. Mr Justice Paul Gilligan will give his decision tomorrow.

In the High Court Chief Supt Healy said the "most suitable way" for gardai to deal with the matter was if an order was given directing gardai to bring people in breach of the order before the court.

"It's a 'Catch 22' situation," he said as the water meter area is not a public area for the purposes of the Public Order Act.

Irish Independent