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Courts were used to 'attack' peaceful water protesters, says TD

Justice Paul Gilligan, jailing the protesters, said their actions amounted to “harassment and intimidation of GMC workers”.

 Group of anti water charge supporters block a prison van leaving the courts yesterday.
Group of anti water charge supporters block a prison van leaving the courts yesterday.
Image: Photocall Ireland

ANTI-AUSTERITY ALLIANCE TD Paul Murphy has described yesterday’s jailing of four anti-water charge protesters as an attack “on the right of communities to protest against the imposition of austerity measures”.

The politician – who himself was arrested and questioned for his role in last November’s Jobstown protest – said the court had jailed the four at the behest of Irish Water contractors GMC Sierrra “so that they can continue to try to impose water meters on communities which have risen up in peaceful protest against their installation”.

“Once again, the courts have been used to attack the right of people to engage in peaceful protest.”

In the same statement, AAA councillor Michael O’Brien accused the Gardaí of acting “as bully boys on behalf of the government and GMC Sierra through physical attacks and harassment of those who have engaged in the protests”.

Five Dublin protesters – one of whom was not in court yesterday, as he was abroad – were found in contempt of a court order and sentenced to at least 28 days in prison.

Justice Paul Gilligan said the protesters actions amounted to “harassment and intimidation of GMC workers”.

He added, “The court cannot stand idly by while those who disobey his orders walk free.”

Gilligan found the five had breached a court order telling them to stay at least 20 metres from water meter installations.

Protests in Dublin city centre in the wake of the sentencing brought traffic to a standstill on O’Connell Street, as supporters of the jailed demonstrators marched to Mountjoy.

Meanwhile, in an interview last night, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that while Ireland was a democratic country where people have the right to protest “the courts are the completely independent bodies who make those decisions and we abide by that law”.

Yesterday: Four water charge protesters are going to jail

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