The Installation of water meters in Inishowen was suspended on May 21, 2015 and to date both GMC Sierra Ltd, owned by Denis O'Brien, and Patrick Gildea, building contractor from Ballybofey, have not resumed work. GMC Sierra Ltd is responsible for installing meters in 'Meter Ready' boxes and Patrick Gildea is responsible for preparing the 'Meter Ready' boxes.
David and Golliath
There are always two sides to every story, however, Buncrana Together will make no bones about rooting for the underdog in this controversy since Denis O'Brien's GMC Sierra Ltd and the unlimited resources in the coffers of Irish Water have made sure that they got their fair share of media coverage. To counteract some pretty biased reporting by some media it is only fair that the anti meter protesters get the opportunity to tell their side of the story.
However, in the interest of clarity, and in case you may not have read Irish Water's accusations and reasons for suspending meter installations in Inishowen, it may be best to show some of the newspaper articles coverage of the controversy.
Donegal Now - A Biased and Unprofessional Article
What only could be described as a biased, unprofessional article was in Donegal Now on Friday 15th May, 2015, Up to 15 protestors surround lone Irish water worker in Moville | Donegal Now (click link to see article). This article is so controversial in so many ways that Buncrana Together will devote an article specifically dealing with the controversy surrounding it.
Standoff in Manorcunningham Donegal News May 21, 2015
Threats and intimidation halt water meter installation
By Cronan Scanlon
Threats and intimidation by water protesters have been blamed for the loss of 50 jobs across Donegal this week.
On Monday, three companies were instructed by the main contractor, GMC/Sierra, to ‘stand down’ operations as it was no longer safe to do so.
One Ballybofey-based meter installation sub-contractor confirmed he laid off 25 men on Monday as well as a further six this morning.m Two more contractors were forced to lay-off a further 20.
A spokeswoman for Irish Water (IW) blamed the move on a number of instances of “targeted aggression” against installers in the Glenties and Inishowen areas.
“The safety of our staff and the staff of our contractors is of paramount importance to both Irish Water and our contractor, GMC Sierra. This work will be rescheduled at a later stage in the project to enable works to be carried out in a safe manner,” the spokeswoman said.
It is believed they came to the decision following an “almost riot situation” during a
stand-off at an estate in Manorcunningham on Monday. However, Gardai have also confirmed they are actively investigating a more sinister incident in which an Irish Water surveyor was “approached by a number of men” in Moville last week.
Garda Superintendent, Eugene McGovern, would not elaborate on the specifics of the incident which occurred on the morning of Thursday, May 14. However, it is believed the man was held against his will for almost an hour and had his ID photographed before being released.
See original article in Donegal News
Ok so that's the media's Story. Now For Protesters side of the story
Read these three Buncrana Together articles to acquaint yourselves with what Irish Water meter installers were doing in Inishowen:
Irish Water Meter Installers Insult And Abuse Ard Na Gula Duibhe 77 Year Old Resident
Irish Water in Moville Co DonegalTreatment of Woman Appalling
Buncrana Against Irish Water Press Release Irish Water Insulting Inishowen Community
Highland Radio Podcast
Michael Mooney member of Donegal Water Warriors on Highland Radio speaking out against Irish Water allegations. He has never witnessed any intimidation of Irish Water Workers. He was present both in Manorcunningham and Movile.
Click on image and listen to podcast.
Highland Radio Podcast
Enda Craig Moville Community Against Water Meters on Highland Radio does not accept Irish Water written apology.
Click on image and listen to podcast
Enda Craig Reply To Donegal Now Online Article In response to Donegal Now article May 15, 2015, “Up to 15 protestors surround lone Irish water worker in Moville”
A substantial number of people were invited to a meeting at Ard Na Gula Duibhe housing estate in Moville to stand in solidarity with the residents who had meters illegally installed.
Statements were read out condemning the actions and behaviour of the Irish Water meter installers by residents and members present.
As people left to make their way home they identified an Irish Water van parked in the Malin Road. A number of people approached the driver’s window where it was seen he was busy writing. He lowered his window and stated he was an Irish Water surveyor and not a meter installer. He showed his I.D. when requested and was asked why he was driving an Irish Water van with no company logo markings on the sides. He was told this was illegal and that he was in breach of his own company’s rules and regulations. He made no response. The people there requested him to take a message to his bosses that the breaching of all the various rules and regulations had to stop and most importantly there was to be no more verbal abuse of any residents. He agreed to convey the message and at this point he decided to leave. He started his van and left. This ended the interaction with the Irish Water employee.
We utterly and completely refute the version of events put forward in the Donegal Now online article “Up to 15 protestors surround lone Irish water worker in Moville” published on Friday 15th May 2015. It is a million miles from the truth and the reality of what actually happened.
It is very disappointing that Donegal Now would publish such a serious article with so many inaccuracies from an anonymous source.
People who were actually there would have had no difficulty providing an accurate account of what actually happened had they been contacted prior to publication.
Buncrana Against Irish Water Strongly Denies Irish Water's Intimidation Claims
Due to continued and persistent rumours of intimidation, harassment, disrespectful and abusive behaviour of Irish Water meter installation workers towards the communities in the Inishowen Peninsula, the cessation of the Metering Programme is very welcome news. If indeed the work has been discontinued because of the abhorrent behaviour of Irish Water Teams, then the outcome of any investigation on this obvious issue would be greatly anticipated.
That the alleged incident on the Malin Road, Moville on Thursday 14th May should have played any part in the decision to suspend Irish Water meter installations in the Inishowen peninsula is beyond comprehension. In an activity as controversial as these water meter installations, all “incidents” must be viewed with a jaundiced eye. No protester/resident that we are aware of knows of any incident of harassment or intimidation of any water meter installer. We direct you to the case of the 77 year old lady in Ard Na Guala Duibhe who received scandalous verbal abuse from an Irish Water installer at 6.45 am. Also a young lady from Carrownaffe who received similar abuse from a water meter installer on the morning of Wednesday 29th April at approximately 10:30am. To date we are not aware of any action having been taken in relation to these incidents.
No-one that we know of in the whole Moville area received any prior notice of the impending meter installations. In fact we are aware of a number of people receiving notification of installation weeks after the meter had already been installed. All meter ready houses have been fitted with water meters breaking the following Irish Water rules and regulations:
1. Installing meters prior to official starting time of 7.30am.
2. No notification of impending meter installation (rules are firstly 2 weeks then 2 days and finally installers must knock on each door to inform you a meter will be installed and water disconnected).
3. Using vans with no company logos.
4. Disconnecting water without prior notice to residents
5. Meter installer refusing to speak to residents (passive aggressive behaviour).
6. Ignoring “No Meter Here” poster in resident’s window.
7. Refusing to stop installation of meters when requested.
This cavalier disregard for their own rules and regulations and abuse of residents has been reported to Irish Water and the relevant authorities without any response.