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Workers installing meters 'need 20m exclusion zones'

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The recent water charge protests in Dublin. Photo: Collins

The recent water charge protests in Dublin. Photo: Collins

Water meters being fitted at Ardeevin Court in Lucan. Picture:Arthur Carron

Water meters being fitted at Ardeevin Court in Lucan. Picture:Arthur Carron

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The recent water charge protests in Dublin. Photo: Collins

The company installing meters on behalf of Irish Water wants a 20-metre exclusion zone around its workers to prevent them from being assaulted and intimidated by protesters.

GMC Sierra Ltd, which has installed some 55,000 water meters and is contracted to install a further 55,000, has warned someone is now likely to get seriously injured in what it describes as "chaotic protests".

In a court statement, Niall Corrigan, GMC Sierra's operations manager, said he believed the protests were being "carefully orchestrated as a means of furthering civil disobedience".

The company has not outlined who it believes is "orchestrating" the alleged civil disobedience.

Yesterday, the High Court granted GMC Sierra permission to serve legal proceedings on a number of people allegedly interfering with workers putting in the meters.

GMC Sierra, which previously secured court injunctions against nine protesters who all insist they were engaged in peaceful protest, claims its workers have been assaulted, intimidated and prevented from installing meters since the beginning of summer.

However, the protests have intensified since September, with workers claiming that violence has been used against them. GMC Sierra wants a 20-metre exclusion zone around properties where its workers are installing metres, with rights of way granted to residents.

Yesterday, High Court judge Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted Jim O'Callaghan, counsel for GMC Sierra, permission to serve at short notice the company's intention to seek injunctions against nine individuals arising out of the protest.

Mr O'Callaghan told Mr Justice Gilligan that the company had brought proceedings against another nine people last month and there had been no difficulties with those individuals.

However, even though the High Court order applied to anyone with knowledge of it, and was also put up on company vans and barriers at the site of the meter installations, the interference and intimidation had continued, Mr O'Callaghan said.

Between 40 and 50 people were turning up at the protests and GMC Sierra was concerned about the health and safety of its workers as well as of residents, said Mr O'Callaghan.

"Someone is going to get seriously injured as a result because they are chaotic at present," said Mr O'Callaghan.

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GMC Sierra's operations manager, Niall Corrigan, said in a court statement the harassment and intimidation of company workers has been ongoing since September and he believed the protests were being "carefully orchestrated as a means of furthering civil disobedience".

Mr O'Callaghan said the right of people to protest and that of the company to lawfully install meters could be met if the court makes an order that no one, other than authorised personnel and residents of the houses where the meters are being installed, can come within 20 metres of the workers.

Mr Justice Gilligan granted GMC Sierra permission for short service of the proceedings on the nine defendants and said the matter could come back before the court next Tuesday.

Protesters will be served with notice that injunctions are being sought against them in the coming days ahead of a full court hearing which is expected to be supported by Irish Water.


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