By Liam Deegan
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
In scenes reminiscent of a Ukrainian fascist paramilitary parade, a new terrifying and chilling vision has reared its ugly head in a tiny country village called Dysert in the town land of Corofin, which is situated to the north of Ennis in County Clare. The sight of men dressed in black uniform type outfits with colored armbands that supposedly held security ID cards, but looking notoriously like swastikas at a very quick glance.
One would think that the photographs and video taken on the day were set in Eastern Europe rather than modern day rural Ireland, 2016.
CHERRY PICKING BY THE BANKS
The setting for this story was the attempted eviction of a man with health and wellness issues from his home on Friday 20th May 2016.
Tommy Collins lives alone and has never bothered anyone, according to his neighbours. Tommy has lived his whole life in Corofin, never really leaving the area to travel anywhere of significance, always staying close to home and the place where he was born and raised. Tommy worked in a nearby quarry all of his working life. Home behind closed doors was comfort to Tommy’s vulnerable mind. A very affable character according to those who know him, but an equally private man to boot.
Tommy like many others fell behind in his mortgage when he was made unemployed. Tommy stated “The machinery replaced my job in the local quarry where I used to work”.
Unable to afford legal representation and certainly unable to represent himself in front of the intimidating courts, Tommy’s home was taken from beneath him by a scribble of the Registrars pen.
Easy pickings, the legal world would say. Low hanging fruit, as the bank would say.
CLARE COUNTY COUNCIL
It is understood from sources close to the eviction attempt that Clare County Council may have played a part in the lead up to the eviction attempt. It is alleged that Tommy had borrowed €76,000 to extend his tiny home, a home that he was born and raised in. Tommy’s mortgage came to the sum of €350 per month in repayments. A comfortable sum by most standards when one is working. However Tommy was let go from his job when the Celtic Tiger crashed. The building trade and the requirement for quarried goods dried up and crashed with it.
Technology and machinery eventually replaced flesh and blood.
It is alleged that Clare County Council sought and won a demolition order on the extension that Tommy had built as it was marginally over the size permitted by the council for an extension. Effectively this act left Tommy paying a mortgage for a useless pile of concrete blocks and timber.
BANK OF IRELAND
But what happened next goes beyond belief. It is alleged that Tommy went to the Bank of Ireland looking for a small mortgage and managed to obtain a new loan of €90,000, even though the bank were aware that Tommy was no longer in employment. Added to the original loan Tommy’s repayment doubled to over €640 per month even though his income from Social welfare payment were a total of €600 per month, meaning it was impossible for him to pay back the loan.
The well-known curse of the newly created indebted class reared its ugly head. Food or mortgage, mortgage or food?
THE APPEARANCE OF THE MEN IN BLACK
On the day of the attempted eviction, several men turned up at Tommy’s residence in order to evict him from his home. To add to the already threatening and menacing situation, these men were wearing balaclavas, tactically designed to hide their faces from the public glare and the waiting cameras. A glare that they would ultimately be subjected to anyway by a group of waiting anti eviction activists and justice campaigners from the southern arm of the Anti-Eviction Taskforce (AET) led by formidable Kerry man, Brian McCarthy.
In what appeared to be a new development in the realms of evictions, at least of the men clearly wore Defence Forces issue boots, boots that gave away the nature of the individual’s other day job and most probably worn the day before, on the parade ground. Allegations of involvement by members of the Defence Forces in the attempted eviction are now under investigation by the military authorities after a complaint was made to Army HQ in Dublin.
Added to this dangerous precedent of using members of the countries security services, the name of one of the largest security companies in the country also comes under scrutiny for its involvement in the attempted eviction. G4S are alleged to have been the main security company tasked with taking vacant possession. G4S had instructed a local locksmith to interfere with the locks several days prior to the attempted eviction.
According to Brian McCarthy of the AET, several members of the “security team” turned up unannounced on the Wednesday 18th of May after ascertaining that Tommy was out of the house and subsequently illegally broke into the property and changing the locks in the process.
Meanwhile, Liam Kitt, who according to sources is a brother of former Fianna Fail TD Michael Kitt, also attended the illegal entry, under the guise of Court Messenger, allegedly to oversee the illegal entry by the security company. Witnesses stated that none of these individuals were armed with any form of official court paperwork or supporting legal documentation in order to qualify an eviction or commit trespass on what is still private property.
Mr Kitt, an ex-ACC bank employee was appointed to the position of Court Messenger after his retirement from the bank. While there is no suggestion that this appointment was politically motivated, it does raise questions about an individual who was previously involved in mortgage lending; now being employed by the courts to evict some of those same homeowners who had borrowed from his previous employers.
Concerned neighbours and members of the Anti-Eviction Taskforce ejected the individuals involved from the property and changed the locks shortly afterwards.
THE LIMERICK CITY FOOTBALL CLUB CONNECTION
However the real cause for concern however, was the ominous appearance of the now infamous men in black, led by a bearded gentleman who purporting to be some sort of court official, however as subsequent investigations would show that this alleged “Court Messenger” was a retired member of An Garda Siochana and a Limerick City Football Club employee who runs event security for the club.
After investigation it was ascertained that the man appearing to lead the “security team” was Ex-detective sergeant Mick Murphy from Limerick.
Questions do remain to be answered around this controversial figure. Questions such as; who actually employs ex-detective sergeant Mick Murphy and what was the reason for his presence on the day? Does ex-detective sergeant Murphy work for the security company G4S as it is known that they were the primary security contractor for this eviction attempt or was he employed by the Under – Sherriff or the Courts Service or none of the above?
One bystander who attended the eviction quipped. “Being an ex-member apparently still has its benefits, it seems”. Questions addressed to the Courts Service about Murphy’s role on the day went unanswered. Other members of the security team are alleged to also work under Murphy acting as security men for Limerick City Football Club football matches and other events.
The sight of several members of An Garda Siochana appearing to be backing up the men in black only served to heighten the tension and especially so when two of these balaclava clad individuals were seen jumping into the back of a Garda squad car as it eventually sped from the scene, leading to speculation among the bystanders that these two individuals were more than just bailiffs’.
According to eyewitness accounts, one of these individuals wearing a blue jacket also appeared to be wearing Garda issue surveillance equipment. Therefore the question that naturally needs to be asked is; were at least one of these men serving members of An Garda Siochana who caught moonlighting as hired muscle for the banks?
It was noted that one member of the Garda escort attempted to make a solo entry into the house but was made aware of his actions and the consequences of doing so by a member of the AET. The Garda then moved away from the house followed closely by a number of activists.
In a lighter moment, a quick witted activist at the scene was very fast to point out the irony of our national police force and men in balaclavas working together, as he hadn’t seen such co-operation between the two since the troubles!
NO PAPERWORK, NO EVICTION
Turning up to serve an eviction order with an unsigned warrant, four months out of date might have worked on vulnerable Tommy Collins but certainly was not going to work on this day due to the eagle eyes of the Anti-Eviction team, who eventually sent the retired detective sergeant, his men in black and the Garda escort packing. According to Brian McCarthy of the AET, “nobody in the courts service wanted to sign the eviction order and that is why it was four months out of date and to try and serve an invalid eviction warrant smacks of sheer desperation on somebody’s part “.
According to video recording posted on social media, of a heated conversation between several activists and one of the Gardaí seen in the video telling them that he was only here to enforce the warrant and that he was only given one duty to deal with, which was to effectively enforce an invalid or non-existent warrant as was the case. Activists at the scene stated that the bank, solicitors and Courts Service, should be both charged with wasting precious Garda resources.
McCarthy also stated, “That we believe that only education will bring down the corrupt system and that we will not be engaging in violence, as violence only serves the corrupt system’s purpose”.
THE MYSTERIOUS BLACK BMW
Eyewitnesses pointed out that registration plates on a BMW owned by one of the security men had been taped over using silver Gaffer tape, while the tax, NCT and insurance disks were removed by the owner of the 5 series BMW with the apparent blessing of the escorting Gardaí. It is claimed that the Garda seen talking in the video openly stated that he was there to enforce the eviction warrant and was refusing to deal with any other matters such as non-display of tax, insurance and NCT or the covering up of the registration plate with gaffer tape when a complaint was made by several bystanders as to the illegality of the act.
Activists have stated that they will be making a complaint to GSOC and other relevant authorities regarding the refusal of the Garda to prosecute the owner of the BMW.
THE POLITICAL TAKE ON EVICTIONS
Politicians in the meantime sit on the fence, afraid to be seen to support the stricken homeowners but even more afraid to buck the system and upset the banks or their party leader. When a political system allows a reign of terror by the banks and the courts to continue unhindered, it begs the question… What government minister is going to setup a NAMA for the man in the street and where is the political will to bail out the little man and woman?
Why did the new Independent minister’s in government not add this to their agenda in helping to form a new government? Are one hundred thousand families and their homes not more important than the formation of a government that continues to please the banking fraternity?
On the other side of the coin, it gets tiresome blaming the banks because we know how culpable that they were in this entire sham or maybe we should call it as it is. A big bloody scam!
However, it should never get tiresome blaming the politicians because they work for us all, or do they?
Does money handed under the table in large brown envelopes and promises of big payoffs of one sort or another still play a part in modern day politics to such an extent that the banks and corporations give all the orders and the politicians do all the bowing and scraping?
What drives a politician to sell his or her services to the highest bidder? I think we already know the answer to that one!
In the interim, direct intervention and immediate action is required by the government. Banks and developers have had their turn and now it’s the turn of the homeowners for a peoples NAMA.
Without the vulture funds, I might add!