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Council worker's water meter abuse over 'tight budget'


Protesters march against water charges in Dublin earlier this month. Photo: PA

Protesters march against water charges in Dublin earlier this month. Photo: PA

Protesters march against water charges in Dublin earlier this month. Photo: PA

A COUNCIL worker who flew into a rage and hurled abuse at water meter installers outside his home has been give a three-month suspended sentence.

Brian Ruth (53) became upset with the Irish Water workmen as they put a meter in outside the rented property he was living at in south Dublin.

Dublin District Court heard he was on a "tight budget" and worried that the meter would put his rent up.

Suspending the sentence for a year, Judge Alan Mitchell remarked that people were not entitled to behave like this even if they were unhappy with the water charges.

Ruth, with an address at South Circular Road, Dublin 8 pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour to cause a breach of the peace at Moyne Road, Ranelagh on July 14 last.

He also admitted failing to obey garda directions in the same incident.

Garda Eoghan Reilly told the court he was called to the scene following a complaint from construction workers.

Ruth was being verbally abusive to them as they installed water meters. Garda Reilly directed him to leave the area but he returned minutes later and was arrested.

The accused had previous convictions for offences, including theft.

Ruth had been keeping out of trouble in recent years, his solicitor Michael Hanahoe told the judge.

He worked in Dublin City Council and he was receiving counselling for a drink problem through work.

Ruth had believed that the installation of the water meter would increase his rent at the time and became upset because his budget was "so tight", Mr Hanahoe said.

Judge Mitchell remarked that the accused's employer would have been the water authority until recently.

Ruth was single and living on his own.


"I have to send some kind of message that the court can't condone that type of behaviour," Judge Mitchell said.

"These people had a right to install the meter whether you were happy with it or not. I have to take a serious view of this behaviour towards people who are doing their jobs."

He said the water charge issue was a matter for the country's TDs and Senators and he could only apply the law.

The accused had initially contested the charge before changing his plea to guilty. He lost "some mitigation as a result", the judge said.

The judge suspended the sentence on the accused entering a bond of €200. Ruth is to be of good behaviour and keep the peace in that time.

Another condition of the bond was that he continues to receive counselling.

"If not, there is the likelihood that you will go off the rails again," the judge said. "If you have any issue regarding your rent, it's a matter to take up with the housing department and not people installing the meters."

As he left the court, the accused said: "I'll just have to pay for the water," and told the judge, "Happy Christmas".