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Wheelchair-user hospitalised after incident at water meter protest in Raheny

Gardaí were called in to support Irish Water contractors, as they carried out work that the semi-state says was requested by local residents.

Updated at 6.46pm

[John Lyons]

A MAN WAS taken to Beaumont Hospital for treatment this morning after an incident at an anti-water charges protest in the Edenmore area of Raheny, north Dublin.

It happened as around 30 people were taking part in a demonstration against the installation of water meters on Tonlegee Drive at around 9.30am this morning.

A number of groups have been staging protests in the wider Raheny area for the last two months, and the demonstrations on the street have been ongoing for over two weeks.

Protesters said the incident took place as Irish Water contractors were manoeuvring vehicles and machinery. Images posted online by the ‘Dublin Says No’ campaign group show the man, a wheelchair user, lying on the pavement next to a digger.

Paramedics responded to the scene, and the man was taken to nearby Beaumont Hospital for treatment.

[Photos: Dublin Says No/Facebook]

People Before Profit Councillor John Lyons, who was at the protest, said the man suffered from “a number of conditions”.

A spokesperson for the Health & Safety Authority confirmed to TheJournal.ie this evening that an inspector had responded to the scene this afternoon.

He said they were investigating a suspected workplace accident, and that inspector had interviewed a number of people involved in the incident.

A spokesperson for Irish Water said in a statement:

Allegations of an injury to a member of the public are a matter for investigation by An Garda Siochána, and Irish Water is currently examining video footage from this morning which will be supplied to the Gardaí.

Remedial work

A number of gardaí from Coolock station responded to the scene this morning as demonstrators attempted to prevent the Irish Water contractors from carrying out their work.

[John Lyons]

It’s understood remedial work was being carried out on piping installed in the pavement, after a number of local plumbers made alterations to the system on Tuesday night.

The water had been cut off to three houses by the contractors that morning, as work was scheduled to begin on the meters.

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Lyons said the plumbers had been asked to bypass the equipment installed by the workers, who he said had left the area without reconnecting the water supply.

According to Irish Water:

“Necessary work was being completed by Irish Water to ensure the health and safety of the public and the site, and to repair the effects of illegal tampering which had taken place since metering work had been interrupted by protesters earlier this week.

This tampering posed a serious flooding risk not only to the affected houses, but also to the surrounding area.

The spokesperson said the work had been requested by a number of residents in the area, some of whom had recently complained to gardaí and to local TDs about intimidation from protestors.

Lyons insisted the workers weren’t just carrying out repair work, and had also been continuing their installation of metering equipment today, as gardaí provided back-up.

The councillor said that the protests in the area had been peaceful, and that demonstrators would be back on the site from 8am tomorrow.

The HSA said its inspector may also return to the site to carry out further investigations.

A number of demonstrators from the Tonlegee Drive protest also picketed the Taoiseach’s appearance at a local hospital facility this afternoon.

A 34-year-old man was briefly detained by gardaí, but later released.

Last updated 6.46pm

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Daragh Brophy

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