Two Water Meter Protesters Charged and Remanded in Custody

D. Breatnach

From Irish Collonic News:

Two Water-Privatisation protester activists were charged this week with criminal activities — refused bail as being a danger to the public, they were sent to Mountjoy Jail.

Sean Doyle head crop

Sean Doyle, one of the protesters charged and refused bail

The two, Eamon McGrath and Sean Doyle, both resident at addresses in Wicklow, were part of a group picketing the land of Mr. ‘Rowdy’ Nolan, who is renting his Rathcoole land out to GM Sierra to use as a local depot for the installation of Irish Water meters in the Wicklow area.  Both men are suffering from medical conditions and are reported to be pensioners.

Eamonn McGrath, one of the protesters charged and refused bail

Eamonn McGrath, one of the protesters charged and refused bail

On Monday 9th May, Mr. Nolan was incensed to find some protesters picketing outside his Rathcoole property and that some GM Sierra contractors were not driving through them. In order to demonstrate how things should be done, he backed his four-wheel drive vehicle into one of the protesters, Eamon McGrath, and left him limping away.

According to videos and photos taken at the scene, Mr. Nolan then quickly got out of his vehicle and approached a woman who was videoing him, and appeared to knock her and her phone camera to the ground. Not wasting a second, Mr. Nolan then turned on one of the demonstrators — Mr. Doyle — and seizing him around the head and neck, proceeded to bang his head against the rear of his vehicle.

A number of other protesters then intervened to restrain Mr. Rowdy Nolan, as did a number of Gardaí.

Subsequently, Messrs. McGrath and Doyle were arrested by Gardaí and charged under the BLIPP legislation (“Behaviour Likely to Interfere with Profits and Privatisation”) with “Failing sufficiently quickly to get out of the way of a reversing vehicle” (Mr. McGrath) and “Malicious damage with head to a vehicle” (Mr. Doyle).  They were refused bail and kept overnight in police cells.

Mr. 'Rowdy' Nolan leaving his car after backing into Mr. McGrath and just before his foray into the protesters.

Mr. ‘Rowdy’ Nolan leaving his car after backing into Mr. McGrath and just before his foray into the protesters.

The following day both men were taken to court by Gardaí, where Mr. Doyle had the effrontery to claim that he was not guilty and to make use of the opportunity to make derogatory statements about bankers, property speculators, the Government and to cast aspersions on their management of the country and to suggest it is all being done for the benefit of the rich.

The judge presiding considered the two to be too dangerous to release into the community and remanded them in custody in Mountjoy Jail until Thursday morning, when they were due to appear at Bray Magistrate’s Court.

Protesters claimed that the proceedings at Bray Magistrates’ were barred to members of the public which led to some controversy outside.  Speaking from behind a line of Public Order Unit Gardaí, a Court official, who declined to be named, addressed some people who had been refused admittance: “There is no barring of members of the public”, he said.  “It’s just that after we admitted the 25 members of the Gardaí, there was no room left for anyone else.”  Challenged to deny that refusal of admittance was abusing the civil rights of the accused and of the public, a Garda was heard to say: “You lot and your bloody civil rights!  Where do you think yez are?”  Another Court official responded: “We can’t be letting every Tom, Dick and Harry into court buildings.  We have work to be getting on with.”  A woman in the crowd was heard to respond: “Forget about Tom, Dick and Harry, it’s Joseph and Mary Public you should be letting in!”  The court official did not deign to reply.

Ms. Eva Blushyrt, Secretary of the lobbying group SLOBB (Speculators, Land Owners, Businessmen and Bankers), which has been supporting Mr. Nolan, said that it was outrageous that “decent, business people” are being “harried just for making profits any way they can.” Ms. Blushyrt added that “perhaps it is time to consider bringing back hanging for such dangerous enemies of the status quo”. In the meantime she called for “stiff, exemplary prison sentences” for both men.

Another member of SLOBB, who has interests in a central area of north Dublin inner city, alleged that both arrested men had also been campaigning for the preservation of a number of historical buildings there and blocking the development of a badly-needed quarter-mile square shopping mall in the city centre.

Mr. Nolan, with the backing of SLOBB’s legal representation, is reported to be considering legal action against the Gardaí for alleged assault. “They laid hands upon him,” said a representative of SLOBB, “and technically that’s an assault.” Mr. Nolan is said to be furious with the Gardaí and one of his SLOBB supporters was heard to say that “If the Gardaí can’t put manners on the mob with their truncheons, then at least they shouldn’t interfere when members of the public like him do so.”

One of Mr. Nolan’s neighbours commented about him that “He’s just a gentle giant.”  She appeared puzzled as to how he gained the nickname “Rowdy”.

Supporters of the men stated that a number of protests would take place at different locations at 6pm on Thursday evening.  A number of left-wing Councillors and 13 TDs, including a number representing Wicklow constituencies, have signed a statement calling for the release of Messrs. McGrath and Doyle. Ms. Blushyrt became quite angry when informed of this development and called for the public representatives’ disbarment from their elected positions for what she alleged was “blatant interference in the legal system and in its time-honoured role of defending the status quo”.

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8 thoughts on “Two Water Meter Protesters Charged and Remanded in Custody

  1. Even if you are writing a satirical piece it’s I portal to get the facts right this incident happened in Kilcoole Co Wicklow once the home of the RTE soap Glenroe and I do know this as I live minutes away from the incident

    • Thanks for the correction, Dawn — just noted that the other day and will correct. Anna Harvey is there — maybe I had a psychic episode! We miss him too, and Sean. Glad it made you laugh — we need to have our anger and sadness is inevitable at times but we need laughter too. I remember reading that even in the Nazi death camps, there were Communist and Jewish jokes (there were probably Romany and Sinti jokes too).
      Diarmuid

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