Tuesday 12 December 2017

Workers run a daily gauntlet of violence and intimidation

THESE scenes of violence and intimidation of Irish Water contractors in Dublin this week are just a snapshot of what is endured on a daily basis, sources have said.

These pictures show how a group of contractors came under attack in the south inner city this week.

The workers were pushed and shoved up the street by protesters who had grabbed their safety barriers in the incident.

Employees of the utility company have now asked for cameras to be installed in their own vans on safety grounds.

In another incident, workers were trying to leave a site on Gray Street since 8am yesterday have said they were prevented from doing so for hours.

When a Herald photographer went to the scene, he was filmed by a protester on a mobile phone, who continued to shout at him.

Speaking to the Herald, one contractor said he and his colleagues have previously been subjected to violence and aggression. He said they have been

l pushed over and knocked to the ground

l kneed in the head

l followed to and from work

l had their registration numbers taken and been told minutes later what their names are

l being monitored from vans parked outside their own homes

l had their tyres slashed and wing mirrors damaged

l had protesters jump in front of their vans.

Workers said that they fearful for their own safety.

"Joan Burton experienced this on one day and there was uproar and gardai everywhere, but we deal with it everyday and nothing is done when we call gardai," the contractor told the Herald.

A garda spokesperson said that all complaints made to it are noted, followed-up on, and investigated.

ASSAULT

A spokesperson for Irish Water confirmed that contractors for the metering programme have been subjected to serious harassment and intimidation, including abuse and assault and being followed from their place of work.

"In such circumstances these incidents are reported to the gardai for follow up," they said.

A contractor, who asked not to be named, said the level of violence depends on where the work is being carried out.

But things got particularly nasty this week when they were working in the south inner city in the Liberties.

"People say the protests are peaceful but they are far from it. Some people are hijacking the protests under the mistaken belief that they can legitimately use violence, but there is no such thing as legitimate violence," the contractor said.

"The protesters are laughing at the gardai. I have seen gardai being assaulted at times and the protesters not arrested. I just can't understand it.

"I have been followed home myself, and followed to work as well. It is beyond intimidation," the contractor told the Herald.

The individual said that the sinister level of intimidation has left them afraid to go to work and called for gardai to get tough on violent protesters.

"One of my colleagues arrived on site one day and within 20 minutes one of the protesters was able to tell me who he was, using the registration of his van," he added.

"It's got so bad with protesters jumping in front of vans now that we've had to ask Irish Water to install dashboard cameras for our own protection.

"It's at the stage now where you get up in the morning and you are apprehensive about going to work if you feel it might be in an area where there could be trouble."

"I'm just trying to get on with my job and earn a living, and I have no problem with peaceful protests but things are well out of hand now," he added.

hnews@herald.ie

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