Three arrests at water meter protest in Carrick-on-Suir

Aileen Hahesy

Reporter:

Aileen Hahesy

St. John's Terrace residents in Carrick-on-Suir opposed to the installation of water meters outside their homes keeping vigil outside their estate last week for the arrival of Irish Water workers.
Irish Water has “rescheduled” some of its water meter installation works in Carrick-on-Suir following protests and blockades at several estates in the town over the past week during which three men were arrested for obstructing meter installers.

Irish Water has “rescheduled” some of its water meter installation works in Carrick-on-Suir following protests and blockades at several estates in the town over the past week during which three men were arrested for obstructing meter installers.

The water utility said it would finish off all water meter installation works it has undertaken in the town to date and explained it has decided to “reschedule” works in some areas of Carrick to ensure they “can be completed safely”.

In a statement, Irish Water said it: “respects the right to peaceful protest and endeavours to facilitate this right in so far as is reasonably possible, while maintaining the safety of the staff, the public and the site of work, which is a primary concern for Irish Water.”

Three Carrick-on-Suir men, two aged in their 20s and one aged in his late 40s, were arrested by gardai at the Castle Court estate in Carrickbeg around 3pm last Thursday for obstructing water meter installers.

A spokesman for Carrick-on-Suir Garda Station said the men were arrested under the 2007 Irish Water Services Act for causing an obstruction and later released following verification of their names and addresses.

He said Irish Water would be the authority to bring any prosecution against the three men. Irish Water said it couldn’t comment on this time in relation to the people arrested in Carrick-on-Suir last week. Cllr David Dunne of Carrick’s Right2Water Campaign said agreement was reached after discussions to allow meter installers work in the Caste Court estate this week. He said some residents in the estate were against having meters but the rest weren’t against them.

When The Nationalist visited Carrick-on-Suir on Monday afternoon, residents and local Right2Water Campaigners were blockading the entrances to the Castle Heights private estate and Seskin Court council estate in Carrickbeg.

Three vans belonging to water meter installation firm GMC Sierra were parked at the entrance to Seskin Court where about 20 people were protesting and had erected a sign declaring “Seskin Court Says No to Irish Water, Get Out of Carrick-on-Suir”.

Over at Castle Heights, two water meter workers were inside a digger surrounded by barriers at the estate entrance where about ten residents and Right2Water campaigners were standing vigil. Residents from Seskin Court and Castle Heights declined to give their names when interviewed. Seskin Court residents said they couldn’t afford to pay the water charges and none of the residents in their estate wanted the water meters. They said they were determined to continue the blockade as long as it takes.

The same message came from residents at Castle Heights, who reported that all but one resident in the estate were against the water meters being installed there, and he didn’t feel strongly about the issue. “We just don’t want this service. We have paid for all our water through our motor tax and through VAT,” said one man.

Caroline O’Brien from O’Hickey Place, next to Seskin Court, was also opposed to a meter being installed outside her home and came home during a break from work to raise her objection with the installers.

“The way I see it there is enough taxation in this country and I think the Government is very wrong with this charge. They say the unemployment rate is going down but that isn’t the case because so many unemployed people have left the country. My sister is in Canada and when she came home for a visit, 40 kids from Carrick came home with her.”

SF Cllr David Dunne said protests occurred at some estates in the town because of the insistence of some water meter workers on installing meters at households that didn’t want them. He said in the part of town where he lived the meter installers didn’t instal meters where they weren’t wanted and this meant there were no problems.

Meanwhile, all groups in Tipperary campaigning against water charges are organising a protest march in Cashel on Saturday, January 24 starting at 2pm. The protest is being organised ahead of the next national anti-water charges march in Dublin on January 31.