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Irish Water staff threatened with guns and assaulted multiple times

NewsBy Sunday World
Irish Water workers have been regularly assaulted, the email says
Irish Water workers have been regularly assaulted, the email says

Staff installing meters for Irish Water have been assaulted 63 times and threatened with guns at least twice, it has been revealed.

Among a series of violent incidents, crews working on behalf of the utility have been attacked with fireworks, rocks, broken glass and even stalked, according to correspondence from Irish Water boss John Tierney.
Details of the shocking incidents were outlined in private emails between Mr Tierney and Environment Minister Alan Kelly, writes Paul Healy for herald.ie.

The Herald sought records of all correspondence between Mr Tierney and the Department of the Environment on the subject of water protests between January 1, 2014, to May 28, 2015.

Seven records were refused on the basis that they were part of ongoing court proceedings, or that information within them "could likely increase the chance of further such incidents taking place".

Irish Water has told the Herald that they have recorded 63 assaults in the last 18 months.

In one of the released emails, Mr Tierney forwarded records of three protests at meter installations on June 26, 2014.

Workers documented protests in the Coolock area of Dublin that day, as works were prevented through incidents of "protest" and "stalking".

Contractors began their work in Rathvale Park, but were met by some 15 protesters who blocked their vehicles. After just under three hours on site, gardai arrived and told the Irish Water workers to leave.

A worker notes that they were jeered off site and employees said they were "followed the entire way" to the next site in Villa Park Gardens.

They were then met with further protest from 11 people.

When asked why Mr Tierney brought these particular cases to the minister's attention, Irish Water said these incidents were "indicative of the nature of issues occurring at the time".

"Safety is a priority for Irish Water and we continue to liaise with gardai," a spokesperson said.

The troubled company said that it recorded two incidents where workers were threatened with a firearm.

One occurred in Louth in October, when a man allegedly pulled a shotgun on a worker and threatened him. The details of the other incident are not known.

Further disturbing details outline incidents of stalking on Irish Water workers, including occasions where they were followed to their homes.

The email claims protesters used social media to find the names and home addresses of Irish Water meter installers, even following them on public transport.

Team members' families have been targeted by protesters, while homes have also been vandalised.

The email also reveals that of the 1,300 people employed as regional contractors with Irish Water, 60pc of them come from the Live Register, small businesses, or are recent school leavers and college graduates.