Protest group prevents home repossession

A county sheriff has been prevented from repossessing a home on behalf of a bank in Laois by a nationwide organisation set up to stop the eviction of people and families from their homes.

In a stand-off with the sheriff, who came to the property in Mountrath, about 30 people from the Anti-Eviction Taskforce stood firm and did not allow the court-ordered repossession to take place.

The group claims the sheriff was acting unlawfully as the family home is protected under the Constitution.

Patrick Grant, a spokesman for the group, said they had been made aware that the repossession was going to take place and so “put a call out” for people to help stop it.

“A man contacted us to tell us the bank was coming to repossess his home. We put a call out for help and about 30 people responded. The county sheriff arrived and was refused entry. They will turn up again we presume, but we are determined that this person will not be evicted and we will respond every time.”

Mr Grant said if the house is eventually repossessed, the group will take it back again.

“The people who live in this house have been threatened with repossession for eight months, it is a very stressful situation. The aim of the taskforce is to set up a network in every county in Ireland ready to come to the aid of anyone in the locality who is threatened with or in the process of being evicted.”

Mr Grant said the group “intends to make its presence felt” at the Allsop Space homes auction on Mar 1 in the Shelbourne Hotel.

Although not directly repossessed, at last November’s auction, 75% of the properties were being sold by receivers with a further two being sold by liquidators. According to Allsop’s, next week’s auction will see 70 of 100 properties being sold by receivers.

“The continued apathy and procrastination of the Government in dealing with the crisis has ignited our movement,” said Mr Grant.

“The tremendous work being done by New Beginnings, The People’s Association Watchdog, Defend Our Homes League and Irish Homeowners Unite is being ignored and given nothing more than a glancing nod of recognition by the Government, while Ireland is sinking deeper into a quagmire of misery and socioeconomic disaster.”

One man, Patrick, who is being assisted by the group, said that until two years ago he had been self-employed and was employing 14 others.

“In 2008 I believed that if I didn’t get on the housing ladder now, I never would as prices were increasing by the day, I still couldn’t afford a house in Dublin but I could at least get a house with easy access to the city via a motorway. The house I chose cost €315,000, very cheap for the time, and I received a mortgage of €260,000, the rest of the money I had saved up.

“I am in arrears with my mortgage but I have absolutely no intention of giving up my home. The banks did not invest any actual money in my home, they merely traded upon my signature which they then sold on.”

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