Vigilantism not the answer to bank rows
AS the Government signed off on another Confidence and Supply agreement with Fianna Fáil and with Brexit on the horizon, possibily with a hard border, i ssues surrounding the state of the nation are coming i nto f ocus as we head f or 2019.
Evictions are getting much of the media’s attention and certainly KBC bank hasn’t covered itself in glory with its handling of the County Roscommon case that saw an eruption of violence the week-end before last.
The bank is apparently owed a lot of money in this particular case and Revenue too by all accounts and certainly people who sign up for significant loans cannot expect to walk away from them. If we all adopted this approach then the entire banking system would collapse.
However, this approach of hiring in private security firms to evict people from their homes has got to be looked at again. It is now quite clear these security firms are hiring people of questionable backgrounds with many having convictions which should rule them out from any such work.
The ins and outs of this case is not for me to comment on but I would suggest that a week or so before Christmas is not the time to evict anyone from their home. And, could the bank not leave the house and just proceed with the repossession of the land to clear the outstanding debt?
In any event, what happened in Roscommon cannot be viewed as some sort of triumph of ordinary people against the big bad banks. Violence is never justified and above all vigilantism has no place in a democratic society. I echo the comments of the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan who stressed in the Dáil that An Garda Síochána is the sole guardian of the peace in this State, charged with upholding the law in the interests of the whole community.
Vigilante groups simply cannot take the law into their own hands as the Minister said and commit acts of serious violence.
Yes, banks can be the most difficult of institutions to deal with and I have listened and read of the many horror stories people have had to put up with over the past few years at their hands, the scandal surrounding the tracker mortgage account holders being one that comes to mind readily. But the way to deal with the banks is through tough Government legislation and the pursuit of wrong-doers through criminal proceedings.
Some of the burned out vans and cars in the yard of the house which was the scene of an eviction in Strokestown last week. Pic: Brian Farrell.