Irish Water meter installation contractors have gained access to a housing estate in Portlaoise after being prevented from doing so by the residents since Monday.

Residents from the Woodgrove estate had been holding 12-hour daily vigils at the entrance into the 114-house estate.

A standoff developed yesterday when the residents blocked a large workforce of contractors who had turned up in another bid to enter the estate.

The number of protesters had swelled throughout the day as residents from around the town, who are holding their own roadside anti-water meter protests, came to show their support.

The contractors pulled away from the estate shortly before 12pm.

At about 4.45am this morning contractors gained entry to the estate unopposed.

They began setting up their equipment and by 7am commenced breaking ground to install water meters.

While a small number of residents attempted to prevent the work from proceeding, they eventually decided to retreat to their own homes and to make a stand over their own stop cocks.