Water protesters face surveillance from firm

A local authority has met with a surveillance company run by former soldiers to discuss ways to monitor water charge protesters after council workers were subjected to a spate of “bullying and harassment” attacks.

Officials from Dublin City Council’s water works department met with Risk Management International (RMI) last month in a move that has been heavily condemned by protesters.

Details obtained by People before Profit councillor John Lyons and confirmed by the council show that, on Thursday, April 16, up to 15 supervisors from the department held a meeting with RMI, which has previously performed surveillance work for Irish Water and which was involved in the recent jailings of water charge protesters.

The discussions — which took place at the council’s water division offices on Marrowbone Lane and led to RMI offering “surveillance expertise” — took place after the local authority raised concerns over a number of “incidents of bullying and harassment” linked to water charge protests.

During the meeting, RMI offered its services to the local authority to help address what a council spokesperson said are “health and safety” issues.

However, while the council ultimately rejected the deal, water charge protesters have claimed the meeting shows they are being unfairly targeted by State institutions.

In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a Dublin City Council spokesperson said: “There has been an increase in the number of incidents of bullying and harassment associated with anti-meter installation protests reported by Dublin City Council employees working in the delivery of drinking water services.

“Dublin City Council discussed this, as it is obliged to, with Irish Water under the Service Level Agreement.

“Irish Water suggested that their specialist adviser could meet with Dublin City Council to provide some advice as to how best to mitigate the risks to the health and safety of the workforce.”

While RMI has previously performed work for Irish Water, this is the first known instance of the company meeting directly with a State body — a development Mr Lyons said is “disturbing”.

News of the meeting comes as the Right2Water campaign holds a national conference today for anyone who wishes to be a general election candidate for the umbrella group.

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