Allsop property auction cancelled due to protest
Protesters gather to object to fire-sale of repossessed homes
Tom Darcy photographed on the steps of the Shelbourne Hotel where he protested against an auction. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
An Allsop Space property auction in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin had to be cancelled yesterday following a protest staged by a number of groups who said they were angry at the sale of family homes repossessed by banks.
As soon as the auction started at 9.45am, a man got to his feet and started protesting about the sale of a pub in Newtowncashel, Co Longford. He appealed to buyers not to bid on any more of the items which were up for sale.
Dozens of other protesters in the hall joined him and started heckling the auctioneers, with some shouting slogans such as “Ireland is not for sale” and “English scum out” – a reference to the fact that Allsop is based in the UK. Allsop Space pointed out this afternoon that it is is owned jointly by an Irish and British company.
Order was briefly restored after 10am but after a small break the protest started again and bidders started to leave the auction room before the sale was abandoned “for safety reasons”. Gardaí were called but no arrests were made.
“The actions of some people attending were both unlawful and intimidatory, resulting in people being prevented from going about their lawful and necessary business as well as being put at risk of personal harm,” a spokesman for the auctioneers said.
He said auctions had taken place on 11 previous occasions “when occasional opposition to the auction was both peaceful and law abiding” but he described yesterday’s protest as “markedly different”. He told The Irish Times that security at the auction was “obviously inadequate” and said a decision on where to hold subsequent auctions had yet to be made.
One eyewitnesses characterised the protest as as “quite abusive”.
“They were roaring ‘Go back to Britain with your tails between your legs like in 1916’,” said Trinity College Dublin student Ciaran Nolan. “The poor auctioneer was getting a terrible time and he was only there doing his job. I feel sorry for anyone who has lost their home but I think this level of abuse was totally uncalled for.”
The protesters were from a number of different groups including People for Economic Justice, Defend Our Homes, Direct Democracy Ireland, and they were joined by some people who were part of no organisation. Outside the hotel some protesters expressed delight that they had forced the auction to be abandoned.
Tom Darcy from Malahide in Dublin, who had his home repossessed by a bank earlier this year, said he said he was prompted to act because of the manner in which the financial institutions had wasted billions of euro of taxpayers’ money and were still aggressively pursuing people whose only crime was to fall behind in their repayments. “Not one person here today broke the laws. The banks did. The people of this country are being persecuted, penalised and evicted. Is that just, fair and equal?” he said.
“We outlined to the audience the nature of these properties and asked them not to profit from the misery of others. Allsops wouldn’t even come out the front door,” said Barry Callaghan, who said he was not representing any group.
“I have never protested in my life. I was a roaring capitalist and I created employment and for that I lost everything, including my home.”