Children look on as anti-water charge protesters block minister
SCUFFLES broke out between gardai and anti-water charges protesters yesterday as young children watched on from a nearby building.
The protesters gathered at the opening of a social housing unit by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly in Bluebell, Dublin 12.
A significant garda presence manned the area for the ceremony, including officers from the public order unit.
The group could be heard calling Minister Kelly a traitor, and accused him of selling out during the event.
However, it was not until the Labour TD tried to leave the area that scuffles broke out.
During the incident, a man was pulled from the bonnet of the Minister's car.
A group of campaigners also blocked garda vans by sitting down on the road.
While the protest was unfolding, a group of young children watched from a nearby building. The children looked confused at the scenes they were witnessing, with some of them covering their mouths in shock.
There were no arrests during the protests and a spokesperson for the Minister said that he was only delayed by a few minutes by the group.
The protest comes as Irish Water refused to confirm how many people have settled their account in the first month of billing.
The company said that billed customers are already using all payment options available. However, the company was unable to confirm how much revenue had been generated in April.
Minister Kelly said that the Government were satisfied with the number of people who were paying their bills.
"The uptake has been very good. We're very satisfied.
"The fact that people have been receiving bills has seen an increase in the number of people registering so we're very satisfied with that," he told the Herald.
"We get an update every two weeks but it varies from area to area, so it's hard to quantify."
The utility said that some bills will be reissued and some cancelled in the first cycle. Bills may be cancelled if issued to household swho are not actually Irish Water customers but who hadn't been in touch.
Irish Water also said that some bills will need to be re-issued if people register after receiving a default bill.
Minster Kelly yesterday was joined by the Lord Mayor Christy Burke to officially open 19 social housing units in Dublin 12, which include 16 two-bed apartments and three three-bed houses.
The €3m development, which has been named Grand Canal View, was halted when a Public Private Partnership fell through in 2010.
However, arrangements for the completion of these works were put in place and the Department of the Environment provided funding.
"Schemes such as this are about more than just about the homes," Minister Kelly said.
"They are also about building sustainable communities."
Mother-of-one Lynn Farrell and her son Jayden (6) moved into their new apartment in January.
Ms Farrell had been on the housing waiting list for just over seven years before being allocated the house.
"It takes a long time but it was worth the wait for me," the delighted tenant said.