An application by the company installing water meters to have a number of water protesters jailed or fined for breaching high court orders will be heard in the Criminal Courts of Justice tomorrow.

Previous applications have been held in the High Court sitting in the Four Courts as usual, but Mr Justice Paul Gilligan will sit in the Criminal Courts of Justice building tomorrow.

The CCJ is a newer, more secure building with a large and permanent garda presence. The courts in the CCJ usually deal with criminal matters.

GMC Sierra accuses a number of anti-water charge protesters of breaching court orders not to intimidate or interfere with workers installing water meters.

It has previously been granted court orders preventing named protesters and anyone else who had notice of the orders from assaulting, intimidating or interfering with workmen installing water meters.

Earlier this month, it was also granted an injunction establishing 20-metre exclusion zones around its work stations.

The court was told GMC Sierra's workers had been harassed, obstructed, assaulted and threatened while installing meters in the Dublin 5 and Dublin 13 areas.

The company claims several individuals have breached the previous court orders and are in contempt of court.

Lawyers for the men named by GMC Sierra have denied the claims and say they have been engaged in a lawful and peaceful protest.

An application by two of the named protesters to be provided with legal aid in the contempt proceedings will be heard by the High Court next month.

John Darcy and Anthony Eccles want the court to make declarations that they are entitled to be provided with legal aid to defend the contempt proceedings.

The men say they were told the legal aid scheme is not available to a person accused of being in contempt of court orders.

They say the refusal to provide legal aid for people without means, who are facing the loss of their liberty in non criminal proceedings, breaches the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said today the men's application raised an important issue.

In a hearing held amid tight security in the Four Courts, Mr Justice Kearns fixed a date in early December for their case.

But he ruled out granting any stay preventing tomorrow's contempt proceedings from going ahead before the legal aid challenge is decided.