Roscommon eviction events a ‘serious crime’, says Drew Harris

Charlie Flanagan: ‘No room in this country for people taking law into their own hands’

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and  Garda Commissioner Drew Harris condemned the attack on the private security firm tasked with evicting a farmer in Co Roscommon. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris condemned the attack on the private security firm tasked with evicting a farmer in Co Roscommon. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said events in Co Roscommon at the weekend were “a very serious crime” and that An Garda Síochána is treating them as such.

He said there is “no way” the Garda would “stand aside and watch a violent encounter”.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said “there is no room in this country for people taking the law into their own hands”.

A group of masked men confronted a private security firm on Sunday morning in which three security guards were seriously injured, four vehicles set alight and a dog subsequently put down.

The firm was enforcing a court order and carrying out an eviction of farmer Anthony McGann along with his sister and brother from Falsk, near Strokestown.

Mr Harris said a Garda investigation is underway and support has been provided to the area.

“We found ourselves faced with a very difficult and tense situation developing,” said Mr Harris on Tuesday.

“Undoubtedly, in the very early hours of Sunday morning a serious crime has been alleged and committed. We are gathering evidence in respect of that and conducting a full investigation at this moment in time.

“We found that this is a civil matter and our part in this is obviously to prevent and detect crime and to preserve the peace.”

‘Thorough investigation’

Mr Harris also rejected suggestions that the Garda were supervising evictions or standing by and allowing violence occur at evictions.

“We make sure that things don’t in effect get out of hand and offences aren’t committed and the situation doesn’t deteriorate . . . These matters are carefully planned and there’s no way any of my personnel would stand aside and watch a violent encounter, they would intervene,” he said.

Mr Flanagan said the Garda will carry out a “thorough investigation”.

“There is only one Garda Síochána and I believe it’s important every effort be made in Roscommon to co-operate fully with the Garda investigations under way in the hope with the hope that those who have been involved in what is utterly unacceptable behaviour will be brought to justice,” he said.

Both men were speaking at Kevin Street Garda station, where Mr Flanagan announced the Government has endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and agreed to accept all 157 recommendations.