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Laois homeowner who stopped the sheriff left 'demoralised' after eviction

Campaigners were able to stop Lee Wellstead from being evicted last month but the 47-year-old is today homeless after the sheriff made a successful second eviction attempt yesterday.

Ben Gilroy, from Freedom From All Debt, and Pat Dunne, the deputy sheriff, argue outside the home in Laois during the first unsuccessful eviction attempt
Ben Gilroy, from Freedom From All Debt, and Pat Dunne, the deputy sheriff, argue outside the home in Laois during the first unsuccessful eviction attempt
Image: Screengrab via YouTube

A LAOIS HOMEOWNER was left ‘demoralised’ after he was evicted from his home at the second attempt after a previous effort – which became an internet hit – had failed.

The case of Lee Wellstead, 47, went viral last month after a group of United Left Alliance TDs and campaigners from Freedom From All Debt, the Defend Our Homes League, Its Not Our Debt and the Anti-Eviction Task Force were able to prevent the deputy sheriff from evicting the man from his home.

Wellstead had fallen behind on his mortgage repayments to Ulster Bank and was subject to the eviction order which the campaigners argued was unconstitutional. The deputy sheriff and the gardaí who accompanied him subsequently left the property.

But the Irish Daily Star reports today that Wellstead was evicted yesterday. Speaking to TheJournal.ie this morning, People Before Profit TD Joan Collins – who had attended the f ailed eviction attempt last month – said that Wellstead was disappointed:

“The sheriff arrived with police and he wasn’t in the house at the time,” she said adding that the sheriff and gardaí came to the three-bedroomed home in Mountrath, cut the locks and took possession of the house.

“He got a phone call from neighbours to say what was happening. He’s just demoralised at this stage. We’re challenging the fact that they didn’t issue that repossession order prior to it happening but it would be quite difficult at this stage to do anything,” she said.

Ulster Bank said they did not comment on individual cases but said in a statement: ”Ulster Bank encourages customers who are experiencing financial difficulty to contact us as soon as possible.

“We have a specialist team who are working with our customers who find themselves in financial difficulty to find suitable mutually acceptable solutions.”

Collins said that she, other members of the various campaigns and Wellstead would be protesting outside the Ulster Bank branch on O’Connell Street in Dublin tomorrow morning in order to “name and shame” them.

She added that she and other ULA TDs hope to meet with the bank next week: ”Our basic line is that no one should be kicked out of their family homes and that’s the bottom line. There has to be ways of resolving these issues without doing that.”

Ben Gilroy, who is seen in the viral video arguing with the deputy sheriff, said that “it just didn’t seem lawful what they did” referring to yesterday’s eviction and vowed to continue the campaign to prevent evictions.

“Lots of barristers and solicitors are saying I am correct about the issue of the order being made by the registrar and then him putting on his sheriff’s jacket. There’s no separation of powers,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“For Gardaí to act as private bailiffs for these banks, I find it very repulsive. They are supposed to defend the peace.”

I stopped the sheriff: Activists prevent eviction of man from Laois home

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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