Five People Jailed for Irish Water demonstration
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Five people where jailed today for taking part in demonstrations to stop the installation of Irish Water meters. Bernie Hughes, Richie Larkin, Damien O’Neill, Mark Egan, Michael Batty, Derek Byrne and Paul Moore were all charged with contempt of court. Bernie, Derek and Michael got 28 days. Paul and Damien got 56 days Mark and Richie were cleared. Those sentences to prison where found to have broken an injunction granted by Justice Paul Gilligan and none would promise that they wouldn’t do it again
The injunction granted to Seirra GMC make it illegal for anyone to enter a 20 metre zone surrounding the installation of individual meters. Given the nature of housing in the north inner city of Stoneybatter and Phibsboro the injuction people makes it technically illegal for people to be in many of these small terraced streets at all.
Gilligan has handed more injunctions restriction political protest in the state than anyone else. He previously handing out quite draconian injunctions to people organising a demonstration around the eviction of people from their homes. He awarded it to Ktech, another private security firm who forcable evict people from their homes.
In that case the injunction barred people from open quotes organising assisting publicising are attending any of those public demonstrations. Buy any understanding these restrictions bars people from participating in legitimate public political protest.
The evidence presented by Denis O Briens, Seirra GMC in this case came from video taken by private security firms Guardex and First Pulse. Its was supplemented by oral testimony from Brendan Doyle, Michael O Neill and a Mr Corrigan all of whom have been filming residents of local communities and supporters attempting to stop the nstallation of Irish Water meters. Seirra GMC also tried to use photos they took from Facebook pages of communities groups, but this was eventually ruled inadmissible.
The footage that was provided as evidence came from the streets of Stoneybatter, where they helped the locals organise the blockades in December. Of the 13 specific incidents covered, not one video showed any violence or aggression. This was in direct contradiction with the oral evidence submitted where private security tried to say there was harrassment and violence against workers. Since there was no real evidence and nothing to corroborate it, this too was deemed inadmissible.
The actual ‘crimes’ that people will now be spending their first of many night is prison are
1 Being within a 20m restriction zone
2 Leaning on barriers erected by GMC
3 Standing inside the barrier.
Another thing of note is the fact that none of the defendants could be identified by the private who presented video that they filmed. They had no idea who it was they filmed and said they were only able to ascertain peoples identity by getting information from unnamed “third parties”. As we now know the Data Commissioner is currently investigating An Garda Siochana for handing over information police officers have gathered to Irish Water, GMC Seirra, Gardex and First Pulse. This is just another manifestation the ever thinning barriers between repressive actions of the justice system, the police force and private corporations.
Bernie Hughes spoke outside the court at lunchtime, just before sentencing
Meanwhile water meter blockades continue across the country. In the south side of the city at Rialto, no water meters were installed as the community came out to stop the installations in direct contravention of Justice Gilligan, Denis O Brien and a government with little support.