Thursday 26 April 2018

Mum of three flees town after attacks on her home

A mother of three has claimed she has had to flee Tubbercurry after she refused to pay 'protection' money to a money lending gang in the town.

Twice in the space of five weeks the home of Antoinette Keane on the Ballina Road has been attacked with windows being broken by hammer wielding assailants and the window of a car also being smashed.

"They are doing it in such a barefaced fashion because they know nothing or no one can touch them. As far as they see it they are a law on to themselves and they fear no one," said Ms Keane.

She had lived in the house with her children and husband, Edward for the past years.

She claims the town is in the grip of the gang who are moneylenders.

Her children have been beaten up and she has been told that she is next.

"Last Thursday night around 9pm a man came up to my house carrying a claw hammer. He didn't even cover his face that's how brazen he was.

"He just pulled up a hoody to shield his face as he smashed the sitting room window with the hammer and another bedroom window.

"It was bright out but he didn't care who saw him. He just ran off into his car which he had parked nearby," she said.

Ms Keane said it was all down to the fact that she refuses to pay 'protection money' to the gang.

"If I pay it then I'll be left alone. I used to pay them for a good while some time ago but I stopped.

"This is happening all over Tubbercurry. You pay what they are demanding and you'll be left alone. There are ongoing incidents.

"That's not living or having a life. I've reported the incidents to the Gardaí and they are doing their best. I was paying them €500 a month. It's a never ending payment. I was just new to the town and I was used to quiet living so I handed over the money. Some people are paying €1,000 a month.

"I just decided I wasn't going to pay them anymore. People are afraid to speak up.

"If I didn't leave they were going to kill one of us and they mean it. These people are unstable and are not afraid of the law or anybody.

"I left Tubbercurry last Saturday and took my children with me. I'll never go back there, it destroyed us," said Gurteen native, Ms Keane.

She was staying in private accommodation since.

"I'm practically homeless. We just left with whatever clothes we could grab. No one believe that something like this is going on in a town like Tubbercurry," she said.

She has made statements of complaint to the Gardaí and says she doesn't care if going public brings more wrath on her.

"They tore us apart as a family. There's nothing else to lose but my life," she said.

Ms Keane said many families in the town had become reliant on the money-lending family.

"They keep giving you more and more. They don't let go of you even if you think you have paid what you have borrowed," she added.

Ms Keane said she had been on good terms with the family concerned but when she refused to yield to payment demands things turned sour.

A Garda spokesperson said Ms Keane had reported a number of incidents to them all of which have been investigated.

Court proceedings were brought in the past against those Ms Keane had made complaints about.

Sligo Champion