'Illegal tampering' reason for garda presence at water meter work

The scene of a water protest in Raheny earlier this month.

The Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, defended the presence of a large number of Gardaí at protests against the installation of water meters because of illegal tampering with the system.

The issue surrounding the demonstrations at Edenmore in Dublin earlier this month was raised in the Dáil this afternoon by Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins.

Higgins claimed garda resources would be better deployed elsewhere, and the use of officers to ensure the installation of water meters was a waste of public resources.

Minister Fitzgerald, however, said the balance of public order and personal rights was an important issue.

"Gardaí were present in the area on the day in question to maintain public order, and to enable workers to go about their lawful business," said Frances Fitzgerald said in response.

"Their presence was also required as a result of makeshift – and illegal – water connections being installed."

"Such unauthorised work could have compromised the water supply I the area, and the garda presence facilitated the contractors in carrying out the necessary work to prevent this risk."

She said the gardaí withdrew from the area immediately after the work was completed.

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