GARDAI in Cork have set up a special team to police protests against the installation of water meters.
The team has been up and running since Monday and comprises of a number of members from each of the four garda districts in the Cork city division.
Garda management have refused to reveal how many is on the team but have rejected claims by the Garda Representative Association that up to 20 personnel are attached to it.
Chief Superintendent Michael Finn said the number of officers assigned to the team will be fluid, depending on activities by protestors in different locations.
On Monday, there was a large garda presence in Ballyphehane when protesters prevented the installation of water meters by Irish Water on Pearse Road.
The standoff continued for several hours before Irish Water and gardaí left the area at approximately 3pm.
It is understood the team has been set up as Irish Water employees work to install meters in parts of the city where there has been most opposition to the meters.
Chief Supt Finn said policing protests against Irish Water employees doing their job is taking gardai from regular policing but he said there is a need for gardai to act in situations where protesters “start interfering with and threatening” staff doing their work.
The Garda Representative Association spokesman for Cork city, Garda Mick Corcoran, said the new team means that garda resources in each district are being affected.
This is highly suspicious. What is the task force set up to do? Surely the media should be asking relevant questions.
From what Chief Supt Finn is saying it seems the protesters are being targeted. Is this political policing? The interpretation of the law and common law is highly selective and quite wrong.
People have a right to peaceful assembly and to protest against unjust acts. The Gardai are also being selective with regard to choosing the laws that they use against water meter protesters. Gardai should be there to protect our rights and property e.g the stop cock is our property. Also we have a right to object against the installation of highly suspect smart meters, we have a right to protect ourselves and children against these devices.
The Gardai also should know the law with regards to workplaces, they have no right to arrest anyone inside workspace barriers. They have no right to arrest anyone using the Water Services Acts. See http://www.fliuch.org/resources/
There is absolutely no need for any taskforce. It is a total waste of money and resources. Irish Water are the ones who are intransigent and unreasonable. There would be no bother if Irish Water accept the wishes of households who do not want a meter and install only in properties whose owners want a meter. However, we would appeal to these owners to think carefully about the hazards of the meters and what effect they will have on the community. Water meters have nothing to do with water charges and everything to do with control and charging more money.