Commissioner asked to clarify roles of gardaí at evictions
Concerns over gardaí being called in at evictions to be raised at AGSI conference
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris will address the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors conference on Tuesday. Photo Garrett White/Collins
Clearer rules for Garda members being called in by the sheriff when carrying out evictions must be drawn up by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, Garda sergeants and inspectors believe.
The force’s middle managers in the Roscommon Garda division, where a contentious eviction occurred late last year, want a policy document compiled and published so the role of Garda members is defined and made public.
The call, which is set to be made at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) annual conference in Co Cavan, follows disquiet among Garda members about being called in to be on standby at evictions.
While gardaí have no role in evictions, which are civil matters, they have been drafted in as a precaution and to be ready to contain any public disorder that may arise.
Last December the McGann family were evicted from their home in Falsk, Co Roscommon, after a dispute with KBC bank over a loan.
The eviction was recorded by members of the public on video phones and went viral on social media, leading to a highly charged atmosphere locally.
Gardaí have no direct role in evictions and are only present to deal with trouble that may flare
Days after the eviction the house was stormed by a large group and the security workers who had carried out the eviction were targeted by the gang, with a number of vehicles also burnt out.
Some members of the family moved back into the property the following day.
Many Garda members believe the public do not understand that gardaí have no direct role in evictions and are only present to deal with trouble that may flare.
And now Garda sergeants and inspectors from Roscommon and Longford are set to raise their concerns at the AGSI conference in Co Cavan, which is due to get under way on Monday.
They want the association to take up the matter with Mr Harris and to ask him to draw up a policy around gardaí being part of a “posse comitatus”, or an enforcement party assembled by a sheriff.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has already promised to bring security personnel carrying out evictions, or enforcing other court orders, within the remit of the Private Security Authority, the statutary authority that regulates private security services. However, the development would still not clarify the role of gardaí at evictions.
AGSI president Cormac Moylan is due to address delegates on Monday evening, followed by Mr Flanagan. Mr Harris will make his address, his first at a Garda conference, on Tuesday.