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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 20 September, 2019
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Armed gardaí called in as anti-eviction protesters take over Limerick court

Anti-eviction protesters refused to leave the court and formed a mock jury and a mock judge.

Image: David Raleigh

THERE WERE CHAOTIC scenes at Limerick Circuit Civil Court today as anti-eviction protesters took over the court and forced it to abandon hearing 170 home repossession orders.

Limerick county registrar, Pat Wallace, who was hearing the cases, had to vacate the bench twice after protesters approached him and shouted at him.

Protesters claimed the repossession courts were “not legitimate” and were supporting the mass eviction of people around the country.

“It’s a kangaroo court,” one protester shouted.

Wallace left to jeers and shouting by a crowd of around 150 people who had packed inside the court.

As the crowd swelled inside, gardaí called for back up units to deal with the disturbance.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Around thirty officers, including armed units, were deployed to the scene, which descended into chaos.

Anti-eviction protesters refused to leave the court and formed a mock jury and a mock judge.

The protesters decided all of the cases be thrown out of court to cheers from the crowd.

The protesters accused gardaí and other officers of the court of being “criminals working for the government”.

Solicitors and gardaí were also jeered by the crowd as they walked out from the courtroom.

‘Cease and desist’

The protest became angry as Brian McCarthy, of the Anti-Eviction Task Force and Distressed Mortgage Holders, served the Registrar with a notice to “cease and desist”.

The crowd began abusing gardaí and members of the legal profession, as McCarthy was removed by gardaí from the court.

“We need to start putting manners on these people,” McCarthy said, speaking outside the court.

One of the solicitors in the court, Ger O’Neill – who has represented dozens of people facing repossession – said the protesters had gone too far.

“This is intimidation and harassment of the gardaí, the county registrar, and the solicitors, and the lawyers,” O’Neill said.

“Everyone has the right to protest, but this is gone beyond a protest,” he added.

“The gardaí can’t enforce the law because of the sheer numbers…It’s wrong.”

O’Neill said some people who had cases listed before the court fled the court in fear.

“People have left the court because they are scared,” he said.

Singing

Gardaí removed a number of others from the court after they refused to leave and claimed, “this is a civilian court, not a criminal court”

Mid-way through the protest, Wallace returned to the bench but was forced to retire again due to more jeering from the crowd.

As he took to his seat, the crowd drowned out proceedings by singing loudly the Irish national anthem song.

Wallace was seen shrugging his shoulders and informing gardaí he could not continue.

Wallace left the court and the proceedings were abandoned.

There were further chaotic scenes as the crowd began to disperse, while at the same time, gardaí formed a human barricade at the court entrance to stop more protesters from gaining entry.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The protesters eventually left the court and performed a mock funeral procession through Limerick city centre, with a coffin raised on their shoulders.

The procession was led by a woman in a mask and dressed in black cloak, and wearing the sign “The Debt (Death) Collector”.

The protesters also tried to storm a number of banks in the city, but were prevented from doing so when gardaí and bank staff closed their front doors while protesters stood outside chanting.

Read: A 16-year-old boy has been jailed for six months for his part in the Jobstown protest>

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David Raleigh

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