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Staff 'unable to enter or leave' Irish Water HQ for four hours during protest

Irish Water boss John Tierney warned staff not to engage with demonstrators outside its offices during a protest last year.

Irish Water's headquarters in Colville House on Talbot Street
Irish Water's headquarters in Colville House on Talbot Street
Image: RollingNews.ie

IRISH WATER HAS said that its staff have been “regularly subjected” to threats, verbal abuse and in some cases physical assault while trying to carry out their work.

During one water charges protest last year, the company said, employees were unable to enter or leave its headquarters in Dublin for four hours.

It comes after an internal memo released to RTÉ News under the Freedom of Information Act showed Irish Water boss John Tierney warned staff not to engage with demonstrators outside its offices in April.

Tierney advised staff to remain in the building during the protest and keep away from windows.

“Refrain from looking at the demonstrators from within the office,” he wrote in an email.

Staff were also told not to wear any branded clothing and badges in public.

IRISH WATER 2 Source: Irish Water

Lockdown

The memo was issued on 1 April, the day of a national water charges protest that saw hundreds march to the company’s Talbot Street headquarters.

A small number of activists occupied the offices for a short time at the end of the demonstration, which was held to coincide with Irish Water issuing its first round of bills.

On the morning of the protest, Tierney told staff that Colville House would be locked down for the afternoon and that all access to the building would be restricted.

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Security staff on the premises would work with gardaí to handle the situation, he said.

In a statement today, Irish Water said he had written the memo to advise staff on ensuring their own personal safety.

“At the time this memo issued and throughout the previous year, Irish Water staff were regularly subjected to ongoing threats, intimidation, verbal abuse and in some cases serious physical assault causing injury while attempting to carry out their work,” the company said.

“Our staff are entitled to a safe work environment. It is never acceptable for staff to be threatened in any way for any reason,” it added.

Read: If you get an email like this from Irish Water, delete it immediately

Read: How two Labour ministers turned death threats into a political weapon

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Catherine Healy

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