A sister and one of her brothers evicted from a farmhouse outside Strokestown last week, prompting a violent retaliation by vigilantes against security guards at the home at the weekend, were back in possession of the property last night.
According to today’s Irish Times,the eviction of farmer Anthony McGann, along with his sister and brother, from Falsk, near Strokestown, Co Roscommon, was ordered by the Circuit Court after a judgment was given against him.
Mr McGann, who was forced to pay €430,000 to settle a Revenue tax debt in 2015 for under declaration of VAT, has had a number of judgments against him, including one for non-payment of a loan on a Land Rover.
Confirming that one of the McGann brothers and their sister, Geraldine had returned, a family friend, Donal Hanley, told reporters gathered outside the house yesterday evening that they wanted to take their home back. The financial issues that led to the eviction are “a private matter”, he said.
Earlier yesterday the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan had condemned the “violent actions of vigilantes, which led to injuries, animal deaths and very serious property damage”.
And the director-general of the Law Society, Ken Murphy expressed concern, saying the situation was “hugely difficult and emotionally charged” but people could not take the law into their own hands.
Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy, who lives in the district, appealed for calm yesterday, saying that he would offer himself as a mediator to see if anything could be done to ease tensions.
Gardaí are now investigating the vigilante attack on Sunday, but also the events surrounding the eviction, following a complaint. The Minister for Justice has said the regulations covering private security firms will be reviewed.
In a statement Charlie Flanagan said vigilantism cannot and will not be tolerated in the State.
Minister Flanagan added that the full facts of this particular case are not in the public domain and it is deeply distressing to see a family lose their home.
There is, he said, a legal anomaly whereby security guards on duty in a nightclub or elsewhere must be identifiable, whereas there is no similar obligation under the law for those involved in evictions. Officials are to report back to the Minister in January on the matter.