The latest residents to block the installation of water meters in Cork have backed calls for a legal challenge against the establishment of Irish Water.
The residents of Ardmore Estate in Passage West said every avenue should be explored to prevent the rollout of meters and introduction of water charges.
They were speaking as local resident Elizabeth Hourihane, who ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate in the recent local elections, joined them on the protest and appealed for legal firms to come forward and help.
“I’m asking any law firm in Cork to volunteer to come on board and help us and challenge this with a judicial review,” she said.
“I don’t think the Minister for the Environment had the authority to take what is a national asset and transfer it to a private entity.
“At the very least, Irish people deserve a referendum on this. This is an argument about a private company coming in and taking over what belongs to the Irish people.”
She said residents have no problem paying for a service. “But we do have a problem paying for water as a commodity,” she said.
“The Irish people have to come out and stand up against Irish Water and stop these meters from going in. Because once they go in, it’s a done deal.”
She was speaking as about 12 residents of the 84-house estate maintained their blockade against Irish Water contractors for the second day in a row.
The residents received notification last week that meter installation work was due to begin on Monday.
They mounted a protest early in the morning before Irish Water contractors arrived on site, and decided not to enter the estate.
Dermot and wife Noreen Hanlon, who have lived in the estate for 40 years and who were among the protestors, said they felt they had to take a stand.
“We think it’s a disgrace. We’ve no idea what the charges will be,” Dermot said.
Noreen said: “We don’t know what we’re going to be charged. At least with the ESB and the gas, you know what you’re getting. The water charges could be double by the end of the year. It’s very unfair.”
Another local resident, Michael Murphy, a newly elected Sinn Féin county councillor, said residents just don’t want to pay the charge.
“We feel like it’s an extra charge on people,” he said.
“The contractors might come back but we are entitled to protest.
“It’s down to individuals. If they want to come out and protest, they can. We are working on a rota and we will stay here for as long as it takes.”
This latest protest comes six weeks after residents in the Lehanaghmore area of Togher in Cork claimed victory after Irish Water removed several water metres from the estate following a five-week stand-off.
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