Artist behind Garda eviction image believes ‘people are missing the point’

Wicklow artist says image shared by Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin was inspired by North Frederick Street eviction in 2018

The visual artist behind the image shared by Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin which depicts gardaí overseeing an eviction has said “a lot of people seem to be missing the point of it”.

Mr Ó Broin shared an image on social media which reworked a painting by renowned Cork artist Daniel MacDonald (1821-1853) of an eviction taking place during the Famine to show instead gardaí helping to remove tenants from the dwelling.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said “No words needed” and credited the visual artist behind it, Mála Spíosraí, also known as Spicebag.

The artist, who is originally from Bray, Co Wicklow, completed the image in March 2021 but recently re-shared it as the Government decided not to extend the eviction ban, which lapsed on Saturday.


“It was inspired by the Frederick Street [eviction] where masked gardaí were involved in clearing people out of a house in north Dublin,” Mála Spíosraí told The Irish Times on Sunday.

“It was just to highlight the sort of intensity and cultural weight of an eviction in the Irish psyche.

“I think Government just tries to play it off as a formal, legal proceeding whereas I think because of our history and national psyche and cultural consciousness, it symbolically means a lot more to people.

“I decided to reissue it [the image] as prints to raise money for charity. I haven’t decided which charity yet but I’m thinking Focus Ireland or Threshold, but I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

He said the Government’s decision not to extend the moratorium was “a pretty heartless and cold move... especially when we have record homelessness and people in emergency accommodation”.

The visual artist - who promotes his work on Instagram at - said much of his art focuses on political satire, social commentary and “incorporates a lot of nostalgia”.

“A lot of people seem to be missing the point of it [the image], I think,” he added. “People seem to be really wound up about it as if it’s like it’s some sort of fantastical thing. The guards in the picture are from a picture from the Frederick Street eviction, it’s not like a made-up thing. I just changed the property to an older property, people are like ‘this is ridiculous’ but it’s a real thing.

“There’s people going fairly mad about it, there’s obviously going to be all sorts of political point scoring going on but I don’t really use Twitter so I don’t really care. I’m just happy a lot of people are buying it and the money is being raised [for charity].”

On Saturday, Antoinette Cunningham, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) described Mr Ó Broin’s tweet as “deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate” from an elected representative.

Commenting on Twitter, she said it was “insultingly wrong” to portray Garda colleagues “like this”.

The role of gardaí in the North Frederick Street eviction in September 2018 drew widespread criticism as member of the force wearing balaclavas were pictured policing events. The following year Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said An Garda Síochána had learned lessons from a number of evictions and public disorder incidents and gardaí were now taking a more proactive approach in saying when and how a court order was executed.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times