Latest: Roscommon family 'particularly disappointed' by Taoiseach's comments on eviction in Dáil

Latest: Roscommon family 'particularly disappointed' by Taoiseach's comments on eviction in Dáil

Update 10.28pm: The family who were evicted from their home in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon last week, say they have been deeply upset by the use of inflammatory language that's characterised much of the media coverage.

Their family home in Strokestown was repossessed last week.

They released a statement this evening through Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, whom they describe as a friend and former neighbour.

"The forced eviction from our home has left our family shocked by unforeseen events that were thrust upon us," they said.

"Our ordeal has been further compounded by the inaccurate and ill-informed media coverage of our eviction, and the subsequent events that have occurred.

Latest: Roscommon family 'particularly disappointed' by Taoiseach's comments on eviction in Dáil

"We wish to make clear we condemn all forms of violence and want to see the rule of law upheld but we have also been deeply upset by the use of inflammatory language that has characterised much of the media reportage."

They also said they were particularly disappointed at comments made today by the Taoiseach in the Dáil.

In the Dáil today, there was a heated debate between Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty over a violent attack on security guards who had removed the family from the property.

"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.

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."

They say they condemn all forms of violence and have asked the Taoiseach to refrain from making comments that further compound their distress.

They say their case is with solicitors and that matters relating to their eviction will be heard before the courts in due course.

Digital Desk

Earlier: Taoiseach accuses Sinn Féin of letting 'balaclava slip' in row over Roscommon eviction stand-off

By Fiachra O'Cionnaith, Political Correspondent

Update 3.12pm: The Dáil gloves came off between Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin yesterday over the Strokestown eviction stand-off after the Taoiseach accused the opposition party of letting their "balaclava slip" due to their position on the scandal.

Mr Varadkar made the comment under privilege in the Dáil, saying "when it comes to Sinn Féin and the rule of law and public order and condemning violence it does not take very long for your balaclava to slip".

During the leaders' questions debate, Sinn Féin Pearse Doherty told Mr Varadkar drastic reforms are needed to laws to ensure security officials involved in evictions are identifiable.

Describing the eviction of the family involved as "thuggery" by bank henchmen, Mr Doherty said the time has passed for the Government or the banks, behind the evictions, to "simply shrug their shoulders and pass them [incidents] off" while elderly people are dragged out by the ears.

Mr Varadkar initially said although the Strokestown case is more complicated than it may appear and that the eviction took place with the authorisation of the High Court, he accepted changes are needed, saying: "I agree with you, we need proper regulation in this area."

However, amid calls from Mr Doherty for the Taoiseach to condemn the Strokestown eviction, Mr Varadkar responded, noting Mr Doherty had not condemned protestors at the stand-off "who were armed with baseball bats, injured people, set cars alight and forced an animal to be shot dead".

"I agree with the Deputy that we need proper regulation in this area. I agree we need regulation in this area. I also agree that nobody ever wants to see people evicted from their homes, particularly at Christmas time.

"Where evictions occur, they should only ever happen in rare cases after the court has heard both sides of the story and has issued a repossession order first and an eviction order thereafter. That, I understand, happened in this case.

"I am very concerned the Deputy has had nothing to say about what happened afterwards when 20 or 30 people arrived in a cattle truck armed with baseball bats and then injured three or four other people, set cars alight and caused an animal to be shot dead," Mr Varadkar said.

I find it very concerning that the Deputy has nothing to say about that... when it comes to Sinn Féin and the rule of law and public order, and condemning violence, it does not take very long for your balaclava to slip.

The comment led to an angry exchange in the Dáil with Fine Gael and Sinn Féin TDs shouting abuse at each other over their positions on what has happened and the historic links of their parties.

However, despite the fallout, Mr Varadkar refused to withdraw his comments, underlining the increasingly polar opposite views of both parties on social issues.

During a later Dáil exchange, Mr Varadkar was criticised again for the Government's response to the Strokestown case by Fianna Fáil pair Eugene Murphy and John McGuinness.

The Taoiseach repeated reforms are needed, but warned people who do not pay their debts will face the consequences of the law, saying: "We have to be honest, if you borrow money you have to pay it back."

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