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Friday 19 October 2018

Armed detectives set to 'shadow' ministers

Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Governmen Alan Kelly TD pictured at Government Buildings Dublin yesterday Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Governmen Alan Kelly TD pictured at Government Buildings Dublin yesterday Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Governmen Alan Kelly TD pictured at Government Buildings Dublin yesterday Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Irish Water chief John Tierney

Armed detectives have been drafted in to 'shadow' senior Government ministers at public engagements due to increasing concerns for their safety.

Senior gardai have also compiled a detailed intelligence report which states that the anti-water charges protests have been infiltrated by republican extremists and other anarchist groups.

The developnment comes as it emerged Tanaiste Joan Burton has provided a formal statement to gardai after she was trapped in her car for over two hours at a water charges protest in West Dublin on Saturday.

Sources told the Herald that some protesters responsible for Ms Burton's ordeal face the prospect of being charged with false imprisonment and other offences.

The Labour Party leader and a number of her staff met gardai at her office in Government Buildings yesterday, her official spokesperson confirmed.

During the meeting, Ms Burton detailed the abuse she received outside an educational event in Jobstown.

Speaking in the Dail yesterday, Ms Burton revealed the windscreen of a second car she was in was broken amid violent scenes and that she was also hurt in the incident.

"I got a bad bang on the back of my neck. It's a bit like people who play sport, it's a bit stiff but it's okay," she said.

A number of threats made against Government ministers, in particularly Environment Minister Alan Kelly, are now the subject of a series of garda investigations.

In one case, a bomb threat was received by Environment Minister Kelly's constituency office in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, one of four sinister calls Mr Kelly's staff have received.

Gardai are now carrying out threat assessments, including analysing intelligence reports prior to all public engagements by senior Government figures.

Taoiseach and Tanaiste pledge water errors have now been 'acknowledged and corrected' by the Government. Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach and Tanaiste pledge water errors have now been 'acknowledged and corrected' by the Government. Photo: Tom Burke

"Many of these people don't care about water charges, they only want to start riots in the streets and undermine the rule of law," a senior source said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has categorically ruled out any further reductions in water charges even if widespread protests continue.

He stressed the Government has been "fair" and believes enough has been done to allay the "anxieties" of protestors.

He expects that people will now "move on" following the new pricing scheme announced in the Dail.

changes

"Minister Kelly made it perfectly clear that the Government have responded to the issues that were in volved," he told the Herald.

"The anxieties and concerns for people have been addressed fully."

"There are always people who don't want to pay, and I know it's difficult when you have to introduce changes that involve charges."

The Taoisech also insisted payments for water supply are the last national charge which will be imposed on the public in the lifetime of this government.

He also said income tax reductions in January will far outweigh the amount to be paid in water charges.

The capped payments will be in place until January 1, 2019 with legislation to allow for capped charges to continue after 2019.

Irrespective of who is the Environment Minister in 2019, they will have the "legal authority" to continue capping water charges, he said.

Meanwhile, the Herald has learned that the Department of the Environment wants homeowners to use the so-called €100 water conservation grant to fix leaky cisterns, change dripping tanks and install dual flush toilets.

Householders must sign up with Irish Water to get the grant from the Department of Social Protection and avail of the reduced charges of €60 a year for a single person or €160 for a multiple adult household.

When asked why the grant was introduced - rather than a straight forward reduction of the charges - a Department of Environment spokesman said it was to be used for home water infrastructure improvement.

He suggested that householders can use the grant towards "the costs of water butts or installing dual flush toilets".

hnews@herald.ie

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