Chaotic scenes as anti-eviction protest takes over Limerick court

Armed Garda units called to scene as 150 protesters stage mock trial to throw cases out

Court takeover: protesters claimed  repossession courts were ‘not legitimate’ . Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

Court takeover: protesters claimed repossession courts were ‘not legitimate’ . Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

 

There were chaotic scenes at Limerick Circuit Civil Court yesterday as anti-eviction protesters took over the court and forced it to abandon hearing 170 home repossession orders.

Limerick county registrar Pat Wallace, who was hearing the cases, had to vacate the bench twice after protesters approached him and shouted at him.

Protesters claimed the repossession courts were “not legitimate” and were supporting the mass eviction of people around the country.

Mr Wallace left to jeers and shouting by a crowd of about 150 people who had packed inside the court.

As the crowd swelled inside, gardaí called for back-up units to deal with the disturbance. Some 30 officers, including armed units, were deployed to the scene.

Protesters refused to leave the court and formed a mock jury and a mock judge. They decided all of the cases should be thrown out of court, to cheers from the crowd.

The protesters accused gardaí and other officers of the court of being “criminals working for the Government”. Solicitors and gardaí were also jeered as they left.

The protest became angry as Brian McCarthy of the Anti-Eviction Task Force and Distressed Mortgage Holders, served the registrar with a notice to “cease and desist”. He was removed from the court by gardaí.

“We need to start putting manners on these people,” Mr McCarthy said, speaking outside the court.

One of the solicitors in the court, Ger O’Neill, who has represented dozens of people facing repossession said “everyone has the right to protest, but this is gone beyond a protest” .