Fifth water protester given suspended sentence for contempt of court
A water meter protester committed to prison for contempt of court has apologised for breaching an order restraining him from coming within 20 metres of installation works.
Michael Batty had been committed to prison last month along with four other protesters but he was out of the country for health reasons at the time.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said Mr Batty had apologised and had given a solemn undertaking that he would abide by the court's order of November 5 2014.
The sentence of 28 days imprisonment was suspended for a period of 6 months from today's date.
Counsel for GMC Sierra, Jim O'Callaghan SC, said his side was happy to accept the undertaking.
Speaking outside court, solicitor Cahir O'Higgins, said his clients were released on foot of a habeus corpus application to the High Court moments earlier.
Mr O'Higgins emphasised that no criticism was being made of the High Court judge.
“This is a point that was litigated on technical grounds. As a solicitor acting on behalf of people who find themselves in custody, it's very important we vindicate their entitlements to accessing the justice system correctly and sometimes this involves litigating technical pints in order to garner advantage or liberty for the clients in those type of circumstances.”
Mr O'Higgins, who also spoke in Irish during his comments, said his clients had a great deal of respect for the process.
“It is fundamentally an issue of protest. My clients have been given a second chance by virtue of this technical point and we need to reflect on how they wish to proceed in terms of making their point in a sensible, dispassionate and tasteful way.”
Damien O'Neill thanked everybody “in the country who stood up for us” and his legal team.
“Back to normal. No more metres going in anywhere (sic),” he said.
Bernie Hughes said the campaign will move forward and get stronger. She said it had been proven since they went into prison that “people hadn't desisted and people will continue to oppose water meter installation.
“On the 21st of this month, people will be out and I won't say one-hundred-thousand I'll say in their hundreds of thousands.”
“Middle Ireland will see that they should come out and support his campaign because it's not just about water it's about everything that's happening in this country at the moment – the corruption of all the politicians, the people that are dying at the end of ropes because they cannot afford their mortgages.”
“It's come into vogue in the last couple of weeks, I had time to see it on the television, that the media have taken an interest in the evictions that are coming up in the courts and I will implore the media to keep showing what's happening in the country.”
“Ordinary people are being thrown out of their homes and it's just not right.”
The peaceful protest that this campaign has been involved in for the last 12 months or more has garnered support.”
Ms Hughes said the five had been “vindicated”.
Mr O'Higgins said he was very conscious that an order of the court was still in being and that the fundamental tenets of the order were in no way criticised by the applicants or President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.
“It's very important nothing has changed in that regard, those orders are still in force, my advice is to behave responsibly. I would never suggest that anyone do anything other than behave in accordance with the law.”