High Court gives suspended sentences to water protesters
Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy has called on the public to breach injunctions preventing protestors from going within 20m of contractors installing water meters and said he would be happy to break such an injunction myself.
The Dublin TD made the comment after three Dublin protestors were given suspended prison sentences for breaching a High Court order and were also made liable for costs in the case.
Paul Moore, of Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack; Damien O’Neill, of Greenwood Park in Coolock; and Terence Sheridan, of Kilbarron Park in Kilmore West had previously been ordered not to go within 20m of contractors installing water meters and not to interfere with the entrance and exit of the installation company’s vehicles.
However, the High Court found all three had breached the order of November 5. The court had, that day, granted an order to a water meter installation contractor, establishing the 20m exclusion zone around locations where its workers were installing meters in Dublin City.
GMC Sierra Ltd, which had a contract to install meters, had already secured injunctions preventing a number of individuals or anyone who had notice of the order from assaulting, intimidating or interfering with workers installing the meters.
Mr Justice Gilligan said that if orders of the court were breached or ignored in any way, it undermined the very fabric upon which our democratic society was built to the detriment of its citizens.
“As such, the authority of the courts must be respected,” he said.
“The court cannot simply stand idly by while those who defy its orders go free and those who seek its protection lose out.”
After the ruling, Paul Murphy said: “They are not accused of breaking any criminal laws but instead of breaking an injunction that was granted to Denis O’Brien’s company GMC Sierra, which is quite draconian, saying that people have to stay 20m away from water meter installation activity.
“Even completely and entirely peaceful protestors cannot be closer than 20m. It’s a very draconian injunction in the first place. And then it is clear that the suspended sentence has been given to try to intimidate them from participating in protests for a period of six months and to presumably send a message to others not to participate.”
Asked if it was his view that people should have the right to breach court orders he replied: “It is my view that people not only should have the right to do so, but in this case should breach this injunction. I think actually the fact the sentence was suspended indicates the court and the State generally is extremely nervous about jailing people for protesting against water meters. They know that if anyone is jailed on this issue they will have absolutely huge numbers of people on the streets.”
Mr Murphy told Today FM’s The Last Word that when court orders were designed to limit the right of people to effectively protest against water meters, “I think it is correct for people to breach those injunctions and it is correct for public representatives to break those injunctions alongside other people”.
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