KBC bank branches attacked amid protest outside Dublin headquarters

Three attacks on KBC offices in less than 48 hours amid Roscommon eviction controversy

Yellow vest protesters confront gardaí at a KBC bank Irish headquarters on Sandwith Street,  Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: RollingNews

Yellow vest protesters confront gardaí at a KBC bank Irish headquarters on Sandwith Street, Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: RollingNews

 

Gardaí were involved in a tense standoff with protesters outside the Irish headquarters of KBC bank in Dublin on Saturday afternoon, hours after a number of branches were attacked in the capital.

The Belgian-owned bank is at the centre of a controversial eviction of a farming family in Co Roscommon last week.

Arson attack took place at the KBC bank premises on the Main Street in Swords at 5.18am.
Arson attack took place at the KBC bank premises on the Main Street in Swords at 5.18am.

Approximately 25 gardaí stood at the entrance to the KBC office on Sandwith Street in Dublin city centre and were confronted by several hundred yellow-vested protesters who had marched through the city earlier.

On Friday night a branch of KBC was attacked in Dundrum, while another branch was the subject of an arson attack in Swords. Last Thursday, the Sandwith Street building was damaged by fire.

The early morning incident in Swords took place at the bank premises on the Main Street at 5.18am. A Garda spokesman said initial investigations found the front window of the building was broken, where the fire was started. No one was injured but the fire has caused extensive damage to inside the building.

Investigations are continuing and the scene is currently preserved for technical examinations.

A Garda spokeswoman later confirmed the incident in Dundrum, adding: “Gardaí in Dundrum are investigating criminal damage that occurred in a bank premises in a shopping centre in Dundrum on Friday, December 21st, 2018 at approximately 10pm.

“Damage was caused to the walls and windows smashed. Investigations are ongoing.”

Meanwhile, protesters occupied the headquarters of the bank on Sandwith Street which was the scene of the arson attack earlier this week. Pictures and videos posted on social media showed a small group of protesters inside the lobby of the building but they later left the premises.

The larger group of protesters arrived at about 4pm having marched from Custom House Quay to O’Connell Bridge and through the city centre.

The Garda spokeswoman said officers were at the scene of the Sandwith Street protest and were “monitoring the situation”.

A spokesman for the bank said: “We are aware of these incidents and we are taking additional measures to ensure the safety of our people and the hubs that our local customers rely upon.

“As these incidents are the subject of a criminal investigation by An Garda Síochána we are not in a position to provide further comment at this time.”

After the Roscommon eviction last Wednesday week, the security workers from the North who carried out the eviction remained on in the house at Falsk near Strokestown, apparently to ensure it remained in the possession of KBC.

In the early hours of last Sunday morning, a group of about 20 men, most of them masked and carrying baseball bats and one armed with a gun, stormed the house and attacked the security workers.

Four vans and two cars, owned by the security men, were burnt out and a dog was fatally injured in the incident. The security workers were forced to flee and some were hospitalised.

The McGann siblings moved back into the house the following day.

A Garda spokesman said initial investigations found the front window of the building was broken. Photograph: Patrick Logue
A Garda spokesman said initial investigations found the front window of the building was broken. Photograph: Patrick Logue

A criminal investigation is now under way into the attack last Sunday and two arrests have been made, though both suspects were released without charge.

The Private Security Authority is also investigating the men who carried out the eviction.

The authority is trying to establish if the men were guarding the house in the period from last Wednesday week to last Sunday, when they were attacked.

If they were providing guarding services in the period after the eviction, they were obliged to comply with all of the same rules that other security companies working in Ireland are subjected to.