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minister's address put online in sinister move

ADDRESSES for the Justice Minister and Director of Public Prosecutions have been posted on an anti-water charges Facebook page.

Gardai are aware of the sinister development that has seen addresses for Fine Gael Minister Frances Fitzgerald and the Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus published online.

They post on the anti-water charges group's Facebook page were made by a third party in the comments section of one of their posts.

The also published the home addresses of Elizabeth Howlin, the DPP's head of prosecution services and former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The online post was made this week as water meter installations in flashpoint areas were halted following violent confrontations.

INTIMIDATION

Last night the Department of Justice said Minister Fitzgerald "deplores any form of intimidation or attempt to target people whose function it is to uphold law and order in the State."

"You will appreciate that the department does not comment on security matters however there are sinister elements involving themselves in the water charge protests who are exploiting otherwise legitimate demonstrations," a justice department spokesman said.

"An Garda Siochana will do whatever is necessary to ensure the rights of legitimate protesters are protected, but they will not allow the law to be broken or flouted. The Gardai are aware of the postings," the department added.

Gardai would not comment on the security issue while Facebook did not respond to queries on the matter.

And the Herald can also reveal today that Irish Water workers have been assaulted, followed home by unidentified parties and subjected to an ongoing campaign of intimidation.

Gardai are now investigating an attack on meter installers which occurred on Thursday.

It is understood that two contracted Irish Water workers were attacked on Dublin's northside.

Gardai have confirmed that an alleged assault on Killala Road in Cabra at 10.45am onThursday is currently under investigation.

The victim received a facial injury for which he was hospitalised and X-rayed.

"It is now getting very worrying. We are being spat at and intimidated by a minority of protesters," said the worker.

"We are also being followed home and there are people watching us from cars and vans on our streets. It is very intimidating," he added.

As part of the intimidation campaign, the culprits have taken the company details and contact numbers of contractors from their work vehicles and let it be known to the employees that it is known where they work and live.

A source stressed that it is a small minority of protesters who are acting in a menacing fashion.

"Most of them will carry out their campaigns peacefully, and in some areas where we would expect possible trouble we have even had protesters saying they are disgusted by the actions of the minorities," the source told the Herald.

Irish Water said the safety of their staff is paramount.

"There have been a number of occasions where the protests have escalated at individual work sites and have impacted on the health and safety of workers on these sites, necessitating, in some instances, the withdrawal of our staff.

SCUFFLES

"Irish Water would request that the contractor's staff be treated with dignity and be allowed to carry out their work in a safe and dignified manner," a spokesman said.

Elsewhere, an investigation was also launched after a garda radio was stolen by protesters attending a demonstration against the introduction of water charges in Santry on Wednesday.

There was a significant garda presence at the scene in Northwood due to the arrival of Taoiseach Enda Kenny for an event at a sports clinic.

It's emerged that during scuffles with gardai, protesters stole a hand-held radio belonging to one officer.

Due to fears that protests are being infiltrated by dissident republicans, the theft of the radio sparked a security alert. The device was later disabled by gardai IT specialists.

There were ugly scenes later that evening at Coolock Garda Station where a garda inspector was attacked and missiles were thrown.

The Garda Representatives Association said its members have been subjected to threats to their personal safety by anti-water meter protesters.

"Rank and file gardai do not make laws, and are required to pay the charges themselves. Members work with peaceful protesters, but this darker element is to be condemned," said GRA president Dermot O'Brien.

hnews@herald.ie


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