Although we don’t yet have the details or context of the matter, it seems that yesterday in Laois, a linked group of 30 people faced down an attempted eviction. On politics.ie there are photographs which purport to show an official, said to be the deputy Sheriff with a Garda seemingly attempting to gain possession of a country property, and on the other side of a closed iron gate is a group which includes Joan Collins TD from the People before Profit party. The group is said to consist of People before Profit (which unites with the Socialist party and others in the Dail to form the United Left Alliance which is in turn part of the Dail Technical Group), the Anti-Eviction Taskforce and the Defend Our Homes League. A representative of the groups is said to be talking with the Irish Examiner which may publish a story tomorrow; it is said that a TV3 film crew and an Irish Times reporter arrived at the scene of the attempted eviction, but after the confrontation had ended and the bank and Sheriff had withdrawn from the property.
Now although we might not have the facts in the case above, we do know from reporting of mortgages by the Central Bank of Ireland last week that some 600 properties are repossessed each year, most by what is termed “voluntary surrender/abandonment”. Here are the statistics for the last quarter, the three months ending 31st December 2011.
Will scenes similar to those in Laois yesterday become a common feature as banks take action against tens of thousands of households – two months ago there were 53,086 mortgage accounts that were in arrears for more than six months, a threshold where it is believed the account is at severe risk of default.
UPDATE (1): 21st February, 2012. A video of yesterday’s civilised confrontation between the deputy Sheriff for Laois and protesters at a family home is now available on youtube.
UPDATE (2): 21st February, 2012. The Laois Nationalist newspaper has reported on this story, and gives details of the owner and his mortgage history with Ulster Bank. The owner is Lee Wellstead, the address of the property is Knockanina, between Mountrath and Castletown in County Laois. His original mortgage was €80,000 topped up to €110,000 – it’s not clear how much is owed today. Ulster Bank was apparently granted possession at the start of 2009 and was granted an eviction order in August 2011.
UPDATE: 15th March, 2012. It is reported by Deputy Clare Daly – whose colleague in the United Left Alliance Deputy Joan Collins was part of the protest group last month – that the eviction at the above property was effected yesterday. According to Deputy Daly “a large force of Gardai sealed off a country lane leading to the home of Mr Lee Wellstead and then, according to neighbours, forced entry by kicking down the front door. The repossession of the property and the eviction of Mr Wellstead and his young daughter were carried out on behalf of Ulster Bank” The deputy goes on to say that the Defend Our Homes League will be holding a protest at 10.30am at Ulster Bank on Lower O’Connell Street in Dublin.