Sunday 28 December 2014

'New Land League' aims to stop raft of home evictions

Published 20/04/2014 | 02:30

Jerry Beades remonstrates with Gardai inside Coonans Real Estate Agents on Main Street Maynooth during their protest inside the premises last February. Picture: Steve Humphreys.
Jerry Beades remonstrates with Gardai inside Coonans Real Estate Agents on Main Street Maynooth during their protest inside the premises last February. Picture: Steve Humphreys.
A local priest chains himself to a cottage door to prevent an eviction in 1887.

A new grouping, styling itself as the 'New Land League', has been established with the aim of stopping evictions from family homes, the Sunday Independent has learned.

The group has already intervened in two planned evictions, one in Meath and another in Kildare, according to organiser Jerry Beades – a businessman who has been involved in long-running litigation with a number of financial institutions over business debts and who has successfully challenged the conduct of lenders in the courts.

The New Land League is promising to attend and peacefully picket any family house where an eviction is taking place. It has begun setting up a database of supporters across the country.

Where a family facing eviction contacts the group to say they are being evicted, the New Land League plans to send out text alerts to people signed up in that area to form a peaceful picket.

Mr Beades said the group's presence at evictions is often enough to stop the eviction being successfully concluded.

He told the Sunday Independent: "Any of the protests we have had to date have been peaceful. It's about people power. We have a good relationship with the gardai. The whole idea is to force the banks to sit down and talk to people. Simple as that. The banks are morally bankrupt if they think they are going to evict 175,000 people."

Mr Beades said so-called voluntary surrenders of houses to banks by people in mortgage arrears are merely happening because the homeowner feels they have no support. He is also threatening to take the protests to the homes of bank officials.

"If necessary, we will take it to some of these people's own houses to expose what they are doing to fellow citizens."

The group will hold its first meeting tomorrow at 3pm in Tommy Toughers bar and restaurant in Naas, Co Kildare.

"We are expecting a big crowd. We follow the foundations laid down by Michael Davitt all those years ago," said Mr Beades.

"This is not about confrontation. This is entirely peaceful and is designed to focus the minds of not just the banks but the Government as well.

"How many tens of thousands of families are behind in their mortgage repayments with the banks? Are they going to evict them all? It's impossible. We are trying to impress upon them that this is just impossible. They have to come up with meaningful and realistic solutions," he added.

In the Dail last week, Tipperary independent TD Seamus Healy said that Ulster Bank alone has 4,700 repossession cases before the courts.

And he revealed that at a recent sitting of the court in Clonmel there were 30 repossession cases listed.

"The Irish Nationwide Building Society non-performing loan book is being sold at knock-down prices to American vulture capitalists Loan Star and Oakland Capital," he said.

"What have they immediately done? Their first action was to appoint Pepper of Australia as debt payment enforcers. The holders of these mortgages, who are the home owners, were not even allowed to bid for them. At the same time, the Government is allowing senior bankers to give each other and other rich friends huge secret writedowns using money borrowed by the State and supplied to the banks, when unemployed and low-income families who owe as little as €20,000 on their homes are being bullied out of their homes or they are being repossessed. The banks have sole discretion on write-downs using State supplied money," Mr Healy told the Dail.

Mr Healy asked the Taoiseach if he would bring forward legislation to protect these and other mortgage holders from arbitrary interest rate increases and repossessions.

"Will he bring forward legislation to bring complete transparency to the write-down process? Will the Government ban confidentiality clauses in that process? Finally, will the Government put in place fair, legally enforceable criteria for that write-down process?"

Sunday Independent

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