Date set for hearing over alleged interference in water meters

Case to be heard in the Criminal Courts of Justice on February 16th

Contempt of court applications over alleged breaches of orders prohibiting interference with water meter installers will be heard in the High Court next month.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan has decided the case will be heard on February 16th.

The judge was told the Legal Aid Board had agreed to defend a protester who had brought a test case aimed at securing legal aid to fund his defence to allegations that he breached court orders, which he denies. Because of the board's decision, the test case will not proceed to judgment.

Patrick McGrath SC, for a number of other protesters, said his clients are awaiting decisions from the Legal Aid Board on their similar applications for legal aid and that process should take two to three weeks.

Mr McGrath said one of his clients, Michael Batty, of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny, Dublin, would be out of the country for six weeks. Mr Batty is retired and has, for some time, gone abroad to Tenerife for six weeks in winter, counsel said.

The judge said he could not change the date because one of the defendants would be abroad and Mr Batty could always book a flight to come back for the hearing. Mr Batty told the judge he went to Tenerife for medical reasons. “I’m a pensioner and that is why I don’t have the money to pay my water rates,” he said.

Jim O'Callaghan SC, for the water meter installation company, GMC Sierra, said they were only pursuing the matter in relation to the most recent alleged breaches in December concerning seven people. Separate applications in relation to November and September were "historic" and could be adjourned generally, counsel said.

Mr O’Callaghan said he was looking for an earlier date than February, preferably this month, for the hearing.

The judge said the hearing would go ahead on February 16th.