Two events highly significant events took place in Roscommon this weekend.
On Saturday, one thousand people from Castlerea turned out for a March for Justice in support of Austin Waldron, 62, and Alan Flynn, 37.
The two men had been brutally assaulted by Gardai and the people of the town were furious about what happened.
Castlerea has a population of just under 3,000 and so a third of the town joined the silent march.
It is a tremendous tribute to the town’s sense of justice that they come out in such numbers.
The second event was the burning of the vehicles of a security company that had evicted people from their house.
The attack was carried out by upwards of seventy people who wielded batons, chased away the security staff and killed a dog.
The Irish media immediately zoomed in on this last incident.
True to form , the Irish Independent spotted a ‘dissident plot’ behind the operation while the man from RTE subjected local TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, to a withering interview because he dared to call the bank which ordered the eviction, ‘scum’.
The reality however is that the cycle of violence was started by KBC.
They sold off the ‘distressed’ loan to a US vulture fund, Cabot Financial Ireland. No doubt they offered these sharks a big discount – which the original owner never got.
They hired a private security company that, reputably, had links with former loyalists. These were allowed to enter the premises the previous Tuesday as the Gardai had blocked off roads to facilitate the eviction.
The private security staff brutally attacked the owners of the property – while the Gardai sat back.
Respectable men in suits, who were sitting comfortably in their bank, had paid for thugs to throw people out on the roads before Christmas. They could have negotiated or offered the same write-down that they gave to Capitol. But they chose not to – they wanted to show the power of money.
Expecting to get away with this type of activity in country with long historic memories is an example of supreme arrogance.
So, yes, nobody wants to see the violence that occurred but the way to bring this to a halt is to prevent these terrible evictions.
Last week, Solidarity-People Before Profit brought a bill to Dail Eireann to stop evictions – and it was voted through the second stage. But Fianna Fail will gang up with Fine Gael to lock it down so that it goes no further.
We need a big mobilisation in the New Year to help them change their minds. We want serious moves to stop evictions, introduce proper rent controls and building social housing.
The event in Roscommon this weekend shows why we need huge numbers to come out onto the streets.