| 17°C Dublin

The New Land League does little service to those in need


Jerry Beades

Jerry Beades

Jerry Beades

Imagine if you can a cross between William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln, a linguistic flourish coupled with astute legal reasoning. Now imagine it without the wit, training or articulacy of either.

Such is the confusing, obscurantist and ultimately self-defeating language of some of the groups currently attempting to prevent evictions.

The New Land League has brought itself to national prominence again in attempting to assist the O'Donnell family defend eviction proceedings brought by Bank of Ireland. Whether it has chosen the right family to defend is debatable.

In their language and actions, however, the New Land League is retreading a well-worn path of self-representing litigants and serial objectors worldwide.

Their patterns of behaviour, language and arguments are by now familiar. Freeman arguments are used (unsuccessfully) hundreds of times in Irish courts every year.

Ireland tends to only have the Freemen who believe that laws are a form of contract between the individual and the state and only apply if you choose to be bound by that contract.

A familiar technique used by these organisations is the use of very specific but ultimately nonsensical formalities which they appear to believe are significant.

The New Land League's Jerry Beade invited derision by calling Gorse Hill a "bog standard house".

In trying to prevent a repossession of Kennycourt Stud in 2013, the Rodolphus Allen Trust cited Brehon law in support of their contention that land can have only one owner and a mortgage was diluting that ownership.

The owner later apologised to the court for allowing the protesters on his land.

Like many fringe elements, these groups thrive on the internet. Videos of demonstrations are posted online, almost always showing purported victories, however temporary.

In some ways, all this is harmless. What's wrong with a group of like-minded people attempting to prevent a house repossession in Dalkey (even though Mr O'Donnell seems careful not to associate himself with the New Land League)? Well, no. Their believers tend to be those in trouble themselves, who finding the real world offers little help, turn to the people who they think can turn water into wine.

So, for all their high-minded language and documentation, there's very little of substance.

They do little service to the people who genuinely need help, and definitely don't contribute greatly to the heritage of the original Land League.

Dr Lorcan Sirr is a lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology, and currently professor associate at the Faculty of Legal Sciences, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, Tarrgona, Spain.

Irish Independent