Three people were arrested by gardai following protests in Father Murray Park, Dundalk on Wednesday of last week.
Local residents along with Dundalk Republican Newtork for Unity (RNU) rallied together to prevent Irish Water meters being installed at Father Murray Park.
Gardai arrived at the scene after an hour of protesting and three people, including two members of Dundalk RNU, and a local resident, were arrested.
Martin Smith of Dundalk RNU has spoken out against the response of the gardai to the protest.
“It was a very peaceful protest and there really was need for the heavy handedness of the gardai at the scene,” said Martin.
“Two of our members were arrested after they had been asked by a resident to sit on the wall of their property.
“Gardai rushed in as our members made their way toward the residence and arrested them.
“We were not out to cause anyone any grievances. We were merely standing up for our rights and our right to protest.
“The gardai were acting like a private security for Irish Water.
“After the arrests, residents became afraid and left the area to return to their homes, as they feared they would be arrested too.”
Mr Smith said the Dundalk RNU became involved after a local resident spotted the water meter installers early that mroning and contacted them.
“We were contacted by the residents who were adamant they didn’t want Irish Water to install meters in their estate,” he said.
Sinn Fein councillor Edel Corrigan has also called for a more measured response by An Garda Síochána to people peacefully protesting against water meter installations.
“All citizens have a right to protest in a peaceful manner against the water charges and the installation of water metres,” said Cllr Corrigan.
“People are feeling the never ending financial pressure put on them by this government who are taking what’s left out of our pockets, and they want to show their opposition to the introduction of water taxes.”
“While Cllr Tomas Sharkey and I attended a protest last week in Hillview and O’Hanlon Park, many people have told me that there was an excessive number of gardaí on Wednesday morning along with the armed Garda unit in Fr Murray Park while the water meter installation was taking place.”
Cllr Corrigann says the gardaí should have a more measured approach in policing these protests.
“Many people found it disheartening when in the past they have been left waiting for gardai responses to issues around anti-social issues due to lack of resources yet large number of gardaí were present during the water meter installation,” said Cllr Corrigan.
“I would urge any citizens who feel they were denied their right to peacefully protest to contact the Garda Síochána Ombudsman.”