Rule of law must be the bedrock of society
Committing five water protesters to jail for the intimidation and harassment of workers installing water meters, High Court Judge Mr Justice Paul Gilligan drew a series of important distinctions.
The judge first reminded the court of the constitutional rights to free assembly, association and freedom of expression, noting that many people in the country have carried out peaceful protests as a demonstration of their opposition to the imposition of water charges by the Government.
He compared this with the activities of a distinct, small group of people - some of whom have not been brought before the courts or are unknown to them - who persistently move in and around workers attempting to install meters. Mr Justice Gilligan said the protests were being carefully organised and were designed to provoke civil disobedience and found that the protest actions represented "harassment and intimidation" of workers engaged in lawful work.