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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 1 December 2021

'We said they can shove water meters up their arses, now they can shove concessions up their arses'

Justice Paul Gilligan said “The court cannot stand idly by while those who defy it go free”.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THREE WATER PROTESTERS who were in court over breaching a 20-metre exclusion zone around Irish Water meter installers have each been given suspended sentences of 28 days.

The judge said that none of the three defendants “appreciated the gravity” of breaching the High Court order to stay a certain distance away from the Irish Water meter installers.

Handing down the sentence, Justice Paul Gilligan said that the court “cannot stand idly by while those who defy it go free”.

He added that the “authority of the court must be respected” and that the defendants’ position that they had done nothing wrong was “hard to comprehend”.

The sentence was suspended for six months on the condition that the three men do not breach the exclusion zone order, which was enacted by Justice Paul Gilligan on 5 November, with nine protesters ordered to abide by it or face contempt charges.

The three – Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove in Dublin, Damien O’Neill of Greenwood Park in Dublin, and Terrance Sheridan from Kilbarron Park, Dublin – were before Justice Gilligan at the Criminal Courts of Justice today after GMC Sierra, the company installing the meters, asked the High Court to intervene.

All three had not denied in their affidavits that they had been inside the exclusion zone, but all denied that they had been in any way violent.

On Monday, the court was shown videos which showed the men within 20-metres of works, but Justice Gilligan said today that he was not satisfied that these videos had been authenticated.

The court was told that on 11 November, O’Neill was observed interfering with works, but said that he had done this because an elderly resident had become agitated. Justice Gilligan said that he was only there to judge one issue – whether the order had been breached – and could not take any reasoning into account.

In the cases of Moore and Sheridan, an affidavit by an independent observer, as well as witness testimony, put them among a group of protesters who led a slow walk of GMC Sierra vehicles out of an estate.

Cahir O’Higgins, solicitor for Moore and Sheridan said that Justice Gilligan had been “fair and even-handed” and said his clients would “continue to protest in a peaceful and respectful way” and “not doing anything to put themselves in jeopardy”.

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Justice Gilligan had asked the protesters on three occasions if they would give an undertaking not to breach the exclusion zone. On all occasions, no undertaking was offered.

A fourth man, Derek Byrne had proceedings against him struck out on a legal technicality on Monday.

Outside the court, Byrne said that this had become “a case of the Irish government against the Irish people”.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Additional reporting by Christine Bohan

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