Roscommon eviction family slam Taoiseach after ‘balaclava’ comments to Sinn Féin TD
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Roscommon eviction family slam Taoiseach after ‘balaclava’ comments to Sinn Féin TD

THE FAMILY at the centre of a controversial eviction has slammed comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dáil today.

In a heated debate with Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, Leo Varadkar said of Mr Doherty’s party, “it doesn’t take very long for your balaclava to slip”.

Now the McGann family has accused the Taoiseach of trying to defect attention from their ‘forceful and violent’ eviction at the hands of a private, out-of-state security firm while gardaí watched on.

Background

It is the latest twist in a saga over the eviction of three siblings, aged in their 50s and 60s, from their home in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon last Tuesday.

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The bailiffs, from a Northern Ireland-based security firm, were acting on behalf of KBC Bank.

Mr Doherty said in the Dáil today that the bailiffs were not regulated in Ireland under the Private Security Act.

In the early hours of Sunday, five days after the residents were evicted, a gang wielding baseball bats forced the bailiffs from the house.

Three bailiffs were hospitalised and a guard dog was fatally wounded, while the security firm’s vehicles were burnt out – scenes swiftly condemned by the Taoiseach.

The family members have now reportedly returned the property.

Heated exchange

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Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, Mr Doherty said: “This idea that bank enforcers, these thugs – and I call them thugs – can enter into somebody’s property, can cut down locks, can break down doors, can take somebody out by their ears, can kick somebody on the ground and push them out of their own home and property while the guards watch on is not acceptable.”

The Taoiseach agreed such security services need regulation but criticised the actions of the gang that forced the bailiffs to flee.

“I’m very concerned, Deputy, that you’ve nothing to say about what happened afterwards,” said Mr Varadkar in response to Mr Doherty.

“Twenty or 30 people arriving in a cattle truck armed with baseball bats, who then injured three or four other people, set cars alight and caused an animal to be shot dead.

“I find it very concerning that you‘ve nothing to say about that.”

He added: “When it comes to Sinn Féin and the rule of law and public order and condemning violence, it doesn’t take very long for your balaclava to slip.”

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'Narrow agendas'

Tonight, in a statement issued through Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, the McGann family slammed the Taoiseach, adding they are now seeking legal advice in relation to their eviction.

“We believe our plight has been exploited by some wishing to further their own narrow agendas and we were particularly disappointed at comments made today by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil,” said the statement.

“His remarks, we believe, are a deliberate attempt to deflect attention from some of the very serious issues relating to our eviction.

“He has yet to adequately respond to the actions of unidentified security personnel who forcibly, and with considerable violence, removed our family from our home in front of a massive Garda presence that oversaw the eviction, nor has he responded to concerns about the legality of the eviction notice.”

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Yesterday, Mr Doherty condemned the government for fostering an environment in which bailed-out banks can evict people from their homes, and called for KBC and their agents to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee.