On the 11th of December, a family living near Strokestown, Roscommon were evicted from their farm; later, footage of the eviction hit the internet and showcased the brutal treatment of the homeowners at the hands of a Northern security firm. Gardaí stood by and watched as punches were thrown and men were beaten. The footage quickly went viral.
This is not the only eviction in that area. This is the eviction that stirred the flames of passion within people. Looking back on the incident now with the clarity of hindsight, it is clear that there has been a tension brewing silently beneath the surface —a tension that has gone unnoticed by the uninvolved until now.
In the days after the eviction some people of the locality organised and co-ordinated. On the weekend they struck. Early in the morning a mob set upon the property and the private security contractors who had confiscated it. The security guards were beaten and their vehicles set alight. Emergency responders apparently could not quickly reach the site of the attack as roads had been blocked.
What is to be made of this incident?
Firstly, the violence. Contrary to the reaction from mainstream figures, violence was doled out by both participants in this conflict; but, and this is key, the violence was initiated by the contractors hired by KBC Bank Ireland. This bout of violence was given little attention by mainstream figures. Especially egregious was the behaviour of An Garda Síochána, who watched on as Irish citizens were battered and bruised by British contractors and did nothing to stop them. This violence was given little attention because it was inconvenient. It is inconvenient PR for the bank who hired the contractors, and it is inconvenient PR for An Garda Síochána who did not stop their abusive actions. But this violence was most inconvenient in that it highlights the brutality of the system upon which the current government depends. A system which brutalises the common Irishman in service of capital and capital alone.
The responding violence, that which has been given the most attention and condemned by every figure in the spotlight, is a reaction that should have been predicted, but which caught almost everyone by surprise. The surprise, most likely, was shock that such manhood still exists in Ireland. This act of revenge was especially resonant. It calls back to a very shameful episode in our history: the Land War. And Roscommon was no stranger to the landlord and the bailiff and the hunger and cold winds that followed their evictions in those dark days.
The historical parallels are too apt. The Irish having life made impossible for them by the vast mechanics of the economic system to which we are subjected. The powerful and wealthy magnates clearing them off their own hereditary lands to make way for foreign buyouts. The British enforcers. The complicit Irishmen. It is a recipe for disaster. And though violence is regrettable it is inevitable. It is a byproduct of the system which deprives Irish people of their lands to suit the whims and fancies of international finance. And if this violence is to be avoided then the system which drives men to that violence must be brought to an end.
The aim of any true National Government must be to secure that which was proclaimed at Easter time: “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” To safeguard the right of Irishmen and Irishwomen to the ownership of Irish lands, safe from the predations of vulture capitalists, predatory banks, international financiers, destructive foreign interests, and the Irishmen who, whether by weakness or by treachery, serve those who would abuse these God given rights.
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