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Tuesday 18 June 2019

Family at centre of Roscommon eviction 'want the situation to calm down'

  • 'It’s just a crazy situation. They are living in fear' - family spokesperson
  • Gardaí probe whether dissidents involved in attack on security guards at repossessed house had been in contact with local crime figures
  • Gardaí believe republican elements 'exploited' the anger surrounding eviction of local family and became involved in Sunday’s violence
  • Small group gather outside the house last night to show solidarity
A garda at the scene. Picture: Frank McGrath
A garda at the scene. Picture: Frank McGrath

Ian Begley, Robin Schiller, Tom Brady and Ken Foy

The family at the centre of the eviction in Roscommon are said to be very concerned for their own safety and "want the situation to calm down".

The property's front gate has been securely locked and the vehicles torched during the early morning assault on Sunday still remain on the scene.

The windows and doors of the farmhouse have also been boarded up.

Gardaí briefly visited the house in Falsk, in Strokestown, Co Roscommon, last night as a small group gathered outside, but no incidents were reported and local officers left a short time later.

The group have since left, but are believed to return to the site later today.

The group had gathered as more details emerged about the shocking attack that occurred at the house in the early hours of Sunday morning, which saw a gang of at least 20 men armed with baseball bats attack eight security guards.

The McGann family have tasked a spokesperson to speak to the media on their behalf.

According to Donal Hanley, he said they have been "traumatised" by the recent events. 

"It’s just a crazy situation. They are living in fear," he told Independent.ie.

"But when people heard they were back in the house they wanted to come out and show their support.

"There were people here from different parts of the country, but the majority here last night were friends of the family and from Strokestown.

"There’s nothing more we can really say. David and Geraldine [McGann] do not want to talk. I’m trying to help the family out in any way I can. We just want this to calm down," he said.

Mr Hanly told reporters last night that the family don't condone violence and insisted they just want their home back without further trouble.

The McGanns are not suspected of being involved in the attack that occurred at their address in Falsk, Strokestown.

Several conveyed their criticism about how they felt the media reported on the family’s situation.

"The right thing you can do is f*** off back to Dublin," one man told the Irish Independent on Monday.

"I’m here as an independent person representing the people of Ireland. The likes of your reporting is atrocious and you should be ashamed to come here tonight."

Gardaí are now probing whether the vigilante gang who attacked security guards at a repossessed Co Roscommon farmhouse at the weekend had been given the go-ahead by local criminals.

Gardaí believe republican elements "exploited" the anger surrounding the eviction of the local family and became involved in Sunday’s violence.

It is now being probed if the vigilantes’ involvement in the attack was “sanctioned” by a number of crime groups operating in the area who are heavily involved in cattle smuggling.

“Dissidents from the North and Dublin are suspected of involvement. They reached a deal with local crime groups allowing for them to carry out the attacks on their turf,” one source said.

The ‘local’ criminals include a CAB target who is originally from Sligo, as well as a notorious crime family operating in north Roscommon.

Anti-eviction groups and local men are also believed to have been involved in the storming of the property, but not all of those involved have dissident links.

Attack

The attack had been well planned and prepared with the gang blocking off the roads leading to the house, and then making their escape across the fields to a location where getaway vehicles were parked.

It is believed that the men gathered on Saturday evening before heading to the Falsk property.

Three of the eight security workers were hospitalised after the attack – all have since been discharged.

All men reported receiving blows to the head, arms and legs. They were posted at the property by the bank which had repossessed it.

Gardaí are also probing the initial eviction at the same property last Tuesday where two minor assaults were reported.

The farmer whose home was at the centre of the repossession is not suspected of having any involvement in the weekend’s violence.

A local man said: “They’re asking to be left alone and in peace. They’re seriously traumatised by what happened."

Meanwhile Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday condemned the vicious attack on the security guards.

Mr Flanagan warned that vigilantism “cannot and will not be tolerated in this State”.

He added: “While I do not wish to comment on any individual case, I wish to stress that violence is never justified.”

He said gardaí are the sole legitimate guardians of the peace in this State. If anyone has a complaint about Garda actions “they can and should go to the independent complaints body – GSOC”, he said.

“I am deeply disturbed by the thinly veiled references to vigilantism that have been made in recent days in social media and elsewhere,” he added.

“This is a very dangerous road to go down and vigilantism cannot and will not be tolerated in this State.

“While very conscious that the full facts of this particular case are not in the public domain, it is clearly deeply distressing to see a family lose their home, particularly at this time of year.”

Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t think anybody likes to see somebody being evicted or losing their property, especially in the run up to Christmas.

“But if it was done on the basis of a court order I can only assume the judge heard all sides of the story and made the decision that he did.”

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