Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has said that some comments made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar regarding the eviction in Roscommon are “ill-timed” and represent “a lack of compassion and understanding for situations in rural Ireland”.
Commenting on the matter, the Independent TD said: “While the Taoiseach is correct that violence will never solve anything, it was also remiss of him not to remember back to last Tuesday when innocent people were beaten by so-called security personnel carrying out an eviction."
He said that as details of some of the people who allegedly carried out the eviction in Roscommon emerges, questions must be asked in relation to the type of personnel that banks hire for security services.
“I think that the Central Bank needs to carry out a full review of all the banks that it gives licences to in relation to the protocol that is required in these situations.
“In listening to an ex-Sheriff in Dublin over the last number of days on the airwaves, a lot of disparities are evident when you compare the protocol outlined by the ex-sheriff and the protocol followed in Co. Roscommon.” Fitzmaurice said.
The Independent TD wished to reiterate his view that the only way to resolve a situation like this is through negotiations or if there is a legal issue that can be challenged by people trained specifically in that field.
Continuing, he said: “It is my opinion that where people encounter financial difficulties, the best way forward is through negotiation.”
“In this particular situation, we must also be mindful of two siblings who have lived in this house for over 60 years and who obviously weren’t taken into account by the bank when this eviction was ordered.”
The Roscommon-Galway TD visited the house on Monday (December 17th) and spoke to the family; he said there were a lot of neighbours and friends there to support them as well.
A number of people – some with family connections in Co. Roscommon, but who are now living in Dublin – contacted the Independent TD on Sunday night and on Monday and offered to help the family in Strokestown. He said that these are people who are trained in the legal profession and who are skilled negotiators when it comes to distressed loans.
“It is my duty as a public representative to pass on those contact details and messages to the family, and to give them space to decide if they want to avail of those services that were offered.”
Reflect on the situation
With just under a week to go until Christmas, Fitzmaurice asked everyone to reflect on the situation – especially as this is meant to be the season of goodwill and a time for coming together with family.
“I would implore KBC to reflect on the situation, and I hope that the different professional people who offered help get involved and work towards resolving this matter.
“Everybody knows that before you can negotiate on someone’s behalf, you must get authorisation under data protection from the people concerned.
“I think it is now time to give space to everybody to reflect on what they want to do. Let’s hope that 2019 will be a better year for this family, as I feel that they have endured a lot of distress over the last week and will want to put this ordeal behind them."
Fitzmaurice's latest comments come just days after he spoke about the issue in Dáil Éireann. Releasing a statement on Facebook, he said: "Banks who ruthlessly evict people who are struggling financially need to be stopped! Otherwise, the homelessness crisis will get worse, while the number of vacant properties will rise!"