Gardaí deny assisting in eviction

Gardaí have denied they assisted a sheriff’s representative to enter a house in Co Laois and change its locks in order to repossess it on behalf of Ulster Bank earlier this week.

Last month, the attempted repossession by the bank of Lee Wellstead’s home in Mountrath went viral on YouTube after anti-eviction groups prevented the local sheriff’s representative from entering the premises.

Earlier this week, however, the repossession took place when Mr Wellstead, 47, was not at home.

It is understood a sheriff’s office representative entered the house with several gardaí.

Gardaí told the Irish Examiner they have no role to play in such situations and are present only in a peace-keeping capacity.

Campaigners are questioning why gardaí would be present at all in cases such as this.

The Defend Our Homes League was one of the organisations which mounted a protest at the same property, contesting the legality of the repossession order, which was issued not by a judge, but by the county registrar.

The group, led by Ben Gilroy, maintains there is a legal question to be contested in the High Court in April, as to whether a sheriff, county registrar or any court below the High Court can issue repossession orders for properties valued at above €36,000.

Yesterday, Mr Gilroy and other campaigners staged a protest outside the Ulster Bank on Dublin’s O’Connell Street in support of Mr Wellstead.

The group had planned a follow-up action but said it was holding off at the owner’s request

United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins, who was at the original eviction attempt, said she was appalled and outraged by the eviction of Mr Wellstead and his daughter. “Where have we come to as a nation when the gardaí act as eviction bailiffs for a British state-owned bank? Have they forgotten our history as a people?”

Ms Collins said Ulster Bank had agreed to meet her and TD Clare Daly.

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