I’m sure I’m not the only one that was sickened by the scenes we saw in Roscommon over the past week.
Sickened by the sight of pensioners being dragged from their homes and beaten in their front garden by jumped up thugs working at the behest of a bank.
Sickened by the sight of Gardai standing twiddling their thumbs, watching as an assault was carried out on the very people they’re meant to protect.
Sickened by the response of the Fine Gael/Fianna Fail coalition as their TDs ducked for cover and were unusually absent from the media. They had plenty to say the day after, of course, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I would love to at least be able to say that the obscenity that was carried out against three elderly siblings in Roscommon this week, with the full consent of the state and the law, was an unusual abhorrence.
I’d love to at least be able to say that it was a sign of the times. I wish I could ruefully lament “where did we go wrong?”
But I cant. Because this is nothing new. The moment our country was partitioned those in positions of power in the new Free State saw an opportunity to build their own little fiefdom.
They kept the rhetoric and language of the independence struggle but quietly, the socialist and revolutionary politics were dropped. Just as Connolly had warned, they replaced the flag but then it was business as usual.
The grotesque images we saw in Roscommon are nothing new but the fact they were captured so clearly, that the footage is so undeniable and raw, is what has captured the public attention.
Who could fail to have been moved by them? The key moment for me was when half a dozen of these mercenaries slammed a pensioner to the ground and began to lay into him. Half in terror and half in disbelief he calls out to the Gardai standing not ten feet away to help him.
Shamefacedly they turn eyes to ground before offering the pathetic explanation that they cant come on to private property.
You heard it here first people, you can apparently assault whoever you like as long as you go their home and do it.
Watching it I didn’t know if tears or rage would overwhelm me first.
Had this been the end of it that should have been enough to have even the most ardent mé féiner out protesting for the rights of his fellow man. But it was far from the end.
Abandoned by the Government, abandoned by the Gardai and now at the mercy of jackboot thugs occupying a family home, the people of the area had only each other to turn to. And so in an effort to retake the family home, they stormed it.
Now I do not condone violence but nor am I going to condemn a community, abandoned by any and all apparatus of the state, for standing together.
How many of them might be behind on a few payments? How many of them might be getting letters from banks or have the shadow of ravenous vulture fund operators circling above their heads. How man of them thought “if we don’t make a stand here, it will be my house that the van full of heavies and bootboys pulls up to next. It’ll be my parents dragged from their home or it’ll be my kids who’ll have to watch their father get beaten in the garden they play in by the paramilitary wing of the banking sector?”
And just like that, all those voices that had been suspiciously quiet, all those talking heads that are usually doing somersaults to get in front of a camera, as if by magic reappeared.
The Gardai confirmed that the grounds of the house “were now a crime scene.” They’re damn right about that, but the crime happened 24 hours earlier in full view of their members.
An Taoiseach bravely popped his head above the parapet to say that he was “concerned about the violent vigilante attack.” Indeed he was “very concerned.” Certainly much more concerned than he was about the violent attack carried out the day before. Three pensioners dragged from their home, beaten and turfed out onto the street a week before Christmas didn’t concern him.
And then there was Fianna Fail.
I wasn’t surprised when they disappeared from the airwaves in the immediate aftermath of the state sponsored attack. Silence is their go to defence whenever evictions come up. Last year the Dáil was tied on an Evictions Bill and the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl cast the deciding vote to save the Government. All 35 of Fianna Fail’s TDs abstained. Sat on their hands and shut their mouths so as not to upset their bosses in Fine Gael.
Local TD Eugene Murphy was first out to talk to the cameras. His glorious contribution to this shameful saga was to “call for calm.”
Are you kidding me?
The people of Ireland have been calm for long enough. In France they gave up being calm for a week and turned the whole direction of the Government around.
If we have learned anything from this it’s the danger of being “calm.”
Remaining “calm” is how we ended up with children growing up in hotels and people freezing to death on the streets.
Remaining “calm” is how we got to a point where it’s perfectly normal for the Gardai to oversee the assault of a pensioner by a paramilitary gang.
For the love of God, do not be calm. Protest these banks, stand with your neighbours if the goon squad arrive at their door and tell our Government that either this kind of behaviour has to go, or they do.
Because those who run this state need to learn the difference between power and authority.
Because no matter how much you owe a bank they do not have the right to send the middle-aged A-Team out to your house to attack you.
Because a black jacket and black jeans do not endow you with any authority whatsoever.
Because a Guard who stands by as you are assaulted is making it very clear who he is there to guard.
Because a Government that allows its people to be treated this way is no government at all.