Gardaí probe burning of council vans in attack linked to water protests

Gardaí are investigating the burning of two Cork County Council water maintenance vehicles in a targeted attack which a local TD described as "sinister".

The vans, property of the local authority and used to repair leaks, were damaged in the early hours of Sunday morning as they were parked in a lock-up unit at Newtown East, just outside Bantry.

It is thought whoever carried out the attack had to scale gates to gain entry to the yard, while the two burnt-out vans were the only ones in the yard bearing any kind of livery linking them to water repair work.

In a brief statement, Irish Water confirmed the incident: “Gardaí are currently investigating and Irish Water will assist them with their investigations.”

A spokesman for the council said that the local authority was awaiting an estimate as to the cost of the destruction of the two vans.

The Renault Master and the Citroen Dispatch were two of four vans parked in the facility. Both had a Cork County Council logo and had ‘Water Services’ written in Irish and English.

However, the council emphasised the vehicles had no role in water meter installation or metering in general. “Every local authority has a service level agreement with Irish Water. We still have a water services department.”

There was no CCTV camera covering the yard, one of 23 such facilities maintained by the council.

The local authority said it had not yet considered whether it would need to increase the level of security in other yards.

The Garda Press Office said it had received a report of criminal damage caused to vehicles belonging to Cork County Council and it was being investigated.

Cork South West Fine Gael TD Noel Harrington said the burning of the vehicles was “a very sinister and worrying development”.

The Castletownbere-based TD said Bantry, in particular, had suffered for years because of a defective water supply system, and targeting vehicles used for such work was hampering those efforts.

“Most of the people who have a grievance against the water charges have protested in a legitimate and proper way but this is a very sinister and worrying development,” he said.

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