Gardaí ‘aided and abetted’ eviction of two elderly people, Dáil hears

Independent TD claims officers blocked road in Co Roscommon while group ‘pegged people out’

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice told the Dáil many people were receiving notice-to-quit letters from banks selling buy-to-let properties. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice told the Dáil many people were receiving notice-to-quit letters from banks selling buy-to-let properties. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Gardaí “aided and abetted” the eviction this week of two elderly people from their home by a group of men from the North, it was alleged in the Dáil.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said that gardaí blocked off two roads in Co Roscommon on Tuesday 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”.

The Roscommon-Galway TD said the group of men from the North came with dogs. “They were aided and abetted by An Garda Síochána, which is disgraceful,” he said.

Mr Fitzmaurice warned that “Irish people need to wake up, especially if people are coming from the North. We must take them on and stop what is happening.”

He said many people were receiving notice-to-quit letters from banks selling buy-to-let properties. “In my opinion many of the banks involved are scum.”

Mr Fitzmaurice was speaking during a debate on the Anti-Evictions Bill introduced by Solidarity TD Mick Barry who said the Bill aimed to make it illegal to use the sale of a property or its renovation as grounds for evicting tenants.

He noted that the Residential Tenancies Board found that 52 per cent of claims that a family member was moving in to a property were invalid. The Cork North-Central TD said the Bill was attempting “to weed out bogus and illegal evictions of this type”.

The party introduced similar legislation in January 2017 and earlier Solidarity TD Paul Murphy said that Bill would have been passed “were it not for the votes of the many landlords in this Dáil who voted against it”.

He said the 2017 Bill was defeated by the casting vote of Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl later told the Dáil that “I too am a landlord, albeit a reluctant one. My vote on that day was based on the precedent and tradition that the Ceann Comhairle of the day votes for the status quo”.

Mr Murphy called for the one in four TDs who were landlords, an estimated40 members, not to vote on the Bill because of a “clear conflict of interest”.

But Taoiseach Leo Varadkar rejected the call and said he had no doubt that all TDs were able to make a distinction between their personal interests and the public interest.

He said “that applies as much to people who are members of trade unions who might vote on employment legislation, employers who might vote on employment legislation and all of us here who are taxpayers voting on tax legislation.

“Members are able to make the distinction between what is a personal interest and what is a public interest and we all act in the public interest.”

The Taoiseach pointed to the Rent Bill which the Cabinet approved on Tuesday to deal with landlords who abuse renovation provisions “to empty properties and jack up rents”.

The Government’s Bill will introduce a rent register for people to see what rents are being charged in their area. It also extends the notice-to-quit period and provides a legal definition for “substantial renovation”, which Mr Varadkar said would end “renovictions and bogus renovations”.