A Roscommon TD appealed for calm after eight security staff who had been occupying a repossessed house, were injured in an overnight attack.
The eviction of two brothers and a sister from their home near Strokestown last Tuesday has sparked an angry response with many people objecting to the involvement of a private security firm, apparently from Northern Ireland.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, dozens of men arrived at the farmhouse and in the ensuing melee the eight security men were injured, and four vehicles were set alight. Three of the security staff were hospitalised. A vet was later called to the scene to put down a dog which was injured.
Gardaí said they were investigating criminal damage and assault.
Deputy Eugene Murphy, who knows the family at the centre of the eviction row, appealed for calm. The Fianna Fáil TD who is based in Strokestown said that he would be contacting the bank involved in this case on Monday morning to see if anything could be done to ease tensions.
“Whatever the circumstances of this case may be, it appears to me that it (the eviction) was handled in a cold manner,” he said.
“I will talk to the bank to see if anything can be done to ease tensions”.
Online footage of the eviction in which security men dressed in black, are seen forcibly removing the family from the house, has sparked a furious reaction.
One of the security staff who is told on the video that he should be ashamed as an Irish man can be heard replying that he is British. The private firm had been occupying the house since the eviction.
In the Dáil earlier this week, Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said gardaí had “aided and abetted” those involved. He said gardaí blocked off two roads while between 20 and 30 men from the North “pegged three people out of a house, two of them elderly, and left them on the side of the road”.
Speaking on Sunday, Mr Fitzmaurice said many people had been infuriated at the sight of the family “being thrown out of the house where they have lived all their lives” by people, one of whom identified himself as British.
“Ordinary people right around the country were infuriated to see people coming from another place to put people out of their house, at a time when we are struggling with homelessness,” he said.
Mr Fitzmaurice said the Government needed to ensure there was some kind of mediation service for people who found themselves in such situations.
“Nobody wants to see violence and I have always been a believer in peaceful protests,” he added.
Asked about his criticism of the Garda, he said video footage of the eviction showed at least one man being injured and the Garda had not intervened. “I am somebody who respects the gardaí,” he added.
Supt Séamus Boyle, who is heading the investigation into Sunday morning’s attack, said the role of the Garda was to prevent a breach of the peace.
There have been no arrests in connection with Sunday’s attack. The farm and bungalow is located on a quiet country road which was partly sealed off on Sunday.
The owners of the property, two brothers and a sister are aged in their 50s and early 60s.
Mr Murphy said he was especially concerned that the family would be out of their home at Christmas. He said locals were very upset at how events had unfolded.
“This eviction has been handled very very badly. People are upset at what happened to the family and people do not want violence . I would condemn violence of any kind and from any side,” he added.