Protester charged with criminal damage to 10 water meters - and stealing van keys from contractor
OVER 80 anti-water charge campaigners demonstrated outside a Cork court today in solidarity with a man facing charges of damaging water meters.
Brian Gould (64), one of the leading figures in the Cork anti-water charge campaign, appeared before Cork District Court after he was arrested by appointment by Gardai last week.
Mr Gould of Cathedral Road, Cork denies a total of 11 charges.
Ten of the charges involve alleged damage to water meters to a total value of €800.
The other charge involves theft of a set of Ford Transit van keys, to the value of €50, the property of a water meter contractor.
Ten of the charges are brought under the Criminal Damages Act, 1991.
Judge Leo Malone was told by Inspector Billy Duane that all 11 charges relate to alleged incidents as Ashgrove estate in Carrigaline, Cork last May and August.
Defence counsel, Catherine Kirwan, said her client was pleading not guilty to all charges.
He wanted to be tried by judge and jury on the theft charge.
Judge Malone accepted jurisdiction on the water meter damage charges but Ms Kirwan argued that these are intrinsically linked to the theft charge and should be included with it before Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had consented to to summary disposal of all the matters involved before Cork District Court.
Judge Malone adjourned the matter until April 17 to allow the State prepare a book of evidence in the matter.
He granted Mr Gould free legal aid after hearing he was 64 years old and was on social welfare.
Ms Kirwan told the court her client was determined to vindicate his good name and had never been charged with any offence before.
Anti-water charge protestors had called for a show of strength outside the Angelsea Street courthouse to demonstrate solidarity with Mr Gould.
He is a familiar face at anti-water charge protests in Cork over the past two years.
Another leading campaigner, John Lonergan, said their protest today was about showing support for Mr Gould and all anti-water charge campaigners nationwide.
"We have asked all other groups in the Cork area to support us today," he said.
"It is now over a year since we started blocking the installation of water meters outside homes that don't want them."
"Our campaign is getting stronger by the day and that is the message we want to send out here today. That and the fact that there is strength in unity."
"We also want to show our support and solidarity with Brian Gould who has been a fearless campaigner from the very start."
Today's protest was led by members of the 'Ballyphehane Says No' group.
Campaigner Sheila O'Byrne said it was important for protestors to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.
"This charge is unfair and undemocratic and fair play to people like Brian who have the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of ordinary Irish people," she said.
Michael O'Riordan said it was "absolutely vital" that Irish people unite against what he termed "an unfair tax".