THE High Court has given a water meter installation company permission to serve legal proceedings on a number of people allegedly interfering with workers putting in the meters.
GMC Sierra Ltd claims its staff have been assaulted, intimidated and prevented from installing meters since the beginning of summer. The actions have continued and someone is now likely to get seriously injured in the "chaotic" protests, it is claimed.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted Jim O'Callaghan SC, for the company, permission to serve at short notice the company's intention to seek contempt of court orders against eight individuals arising out of the protests.
Mr O'Callaghan said 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, counsel said.
"Someone is going to get seriously injured as a result because they are chaotic at present", counsel said.
GMC Sierra's operations manager, Niall Corrigan, said in an affidavit 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 meters of the works.
Mr Justice Gilligan granted counsel permission for short service of the proceedings on the eight defendants and said the matter could come back before the court next Tuesday.