Two injured during water meter protest in Cork

One protestor hospitalised and one Irish Water contractor injured during incident

John O’Donovan being loaded into an ambulance following an incident at a Cork estate this morning. Photograph: Keith O’Brien via Twitter

John O’Donovan being loaded into an ambulance following an incident at a Cork estate this morning. Photograph: Keith O’Brien via Twitter

Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 16:42

A man was hospitalised in Cork this morning during a dispute between Irish Water contractors and protesters in a housing estate.

John O’Donovan, a protester, was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital following an incident at Ashbrook Heights in Togher, Cork, before 11am.

Irish Water has also claimed that one of its workers was injured during an incident at the estate.

Contractors for the new utility company this morning entered the estate under garda escort to install residential water meters.

A standoff has been taking place in a number residential areas in Cork city for over a week as anti-water charge protesters refuse to allow contractors install meters.

According to People Before Profit member Jim O’Connell, who supports the protesters and witnessed this morning’s incident, tensions have been escalating between the two groups in recent days.

By his account, workers have been using orange plastic barriers to shield themselves from the demonstrators.

John O’Donovan fell to the ground during an altercation and was left “fairly shook”, Mr O’Connell said. Paramedics later arrived and brough him to hospital.

In a statement, Irish Water said it was “investigating the actions that resulted in an injury to an Irish Water worker and an alleged injury to a protestor in Ashbrook Heights in Cork this morning.

“Irish Water has notified An Garda Siochána, who are investigating the circumstances of the incidents. Until that investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate for Irish Water to comment further on the matter.”

The statement added that “the metering programme is on track, with over 200,000 meters installed to date. Throughout the programme, Irish Water’s contractors have consistently acted with patience and professionalism in their work, even in trying circumstances.”

Gardaí said they were investigating two reported incidents at Togher, one at 7.30am this morning in which a man received minor injuries and another at about 10.30am in which a man was hospitalised.