Last Tuesday, December 11th, at a farm outside Strokestown, County Roscommon, a private security firm allegedly staffed by loyalist paramilitaries from Northern Ireland, who were working on behalf of KBC bank’s vulture fund, evicted a family. The two brothers and sister living there, were in their fifties and sixties. The farm had been in the family for three generations. Apparently the family were in debt to the bank to the tune of €400,000 (half of which was penalties for late payment), and efforts to negotiate repayment with KBC Bank were unsuccessful. KBC Bank had sold the mortgage to the vulture fund Cabot Asset Purchases (Ireland). Accompanied by the police force of the Republic of Ireland – An Garda Siochana – the security firm blocked two access roads to the farm, and violently assaulted several people while carrying out the eviction, a fortnight before Christmas. The gardai who accompanied the security firm did not stop the assault since it happened on private property. The identity of the security guards is unconfirmed – but clearly known to the police.
On Wednesday, December 12th local politician Michael Fitzmaurice discussed the eviction in the Dail (parliament). No comments or statements were issued by the government about the issue
There was no media reporting about the violent eviction.
On Saturday 15th December a video showing the eviction was placed on social media platforms and spread like wildfire, racking up hundreds of thousands of views in the space of hours. When a witness said to one of the security guards ‘You should be ashamed to be Irish’, the response was ‘I’m not Irish, I am British’. Spoken in the dulcet tones of a Northern Irish accent.
On Sunday, 16th December at 5am, a group of forty men – allegedly with connections to dissident republican groups – armed with baseball bats descended on the farm in question. They smashed in the windows to the house and attacked the eight security guards occupying the farm. Three were hospitalised. A dog who was with the security guards had to be put down. Several cars belonging to the security firm were burned out. The house now lies unoccupied. The family at the centre of the story are not connected to the vigilante group.
The media reported on the vigilante counter attack immediately. Condemnation was swift. Nobody has been arrested yet on any charges.
It is all quite worrying. Obviously violence should not be supported – whether that violence be carried out by KBC Bank’s paramilitary staff, or by vigilante groups.
A number of questions immediately spring to mind.
Is it legal for foreign registered ‘security’ firms to carry out evictions on Irish citizens?
Since when has it been illegal for the Irish police to stop violent assault on Irish citizens by foreign security firms.
If the family in question in this instance had tried to engage with KBC Bank about their mortgage, why was KBC Bank allowed to sell the mortgage to a vulture fund – especially after KBC Bank was bailed out by Irish taxpayers to the tune of billions during the economic crash?
Why did the media ignore the violent assault by the security firm working on behalf of the bank, but immediately report on the response?
Why wasn’t our oily Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar as immediately concerned by KBC Bank’s violent thuggery, as he was by the vigilante response.
Welcome to the brave new world of Ireland’s housing catastrophe.