Vig­i­lan­tism not the an­swer to bank rows

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - With PAUL DEERING

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.

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