Three Dublin water protesters have been given suspended prison sentences for breaching a High Court order.
Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack; Damien O'Neill of Greenwood Park in Coolock; and Terence Sheridan of Kilbarron Park in Kilmore West had previously been ordered not to go within 20 metres of contractors installing meters.
However the High Court found that all three had breached the order and committed each man to prison for 28 days. All sentences were suspended for six months, providing they abide by the order made on November 5th.
The High Court had, that day, granted an order to a water meter installation contractor, establishing the 20-metre exclusion zone around locations where its workers were installing meters in Dublin City.
GMC Sierra Ltd, which had a contract to install meters at various locations, had already secured injunctions preventing a number of individuals or anyone who had notice of the order from assaulting, intimidating or interfering with workers installing the meters.
The company secured the orders after its lawyers told the High Court that its workers had been harassed and threatened while installing meters in the Dublin 5 and Dublin 13 areas.
GMC Sierra last week moved contempt of court proceedings against four protesters on grounds that they allegedly breached the ‘20-metre order’ in Dublin 7 and Dublin 13.
Jim O'Callaghan SC, for GMC Sierra, said breaches of the orders had continued and read into the record portions of an affidavit by an operations manager for the company.
It stated that in the days and weeks following November 5th, GMC Sierra had planned to install 500 water meters in areas around Dublin but only 200 were installed.
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, the affidavit alleged. It was not alleged that any of the three men, allegedly in breach of the order, had engaged in this violence.
The attachment and committal (of fine or imprisonment) motion against the fourth man was struck out on Monday, after Mr Justice Paul Gilligan agreed that the legal paperwork was not in order.
The judge said today that he had considered the affidavits advanced by various witnesses, who said they had seen the three men within the exclusion zone. He also considered the affidavits of the three protesters, who had not denied that they went within that zone.
He said he was satisfied that all three had breached the court order and said that the appropriate penalty was to commit each man to prison for 28 days. However, he suspended the sentences for six months provided they abide by the court order.