PROTESTING that a sitting of the Limerick repossession court was nothing more than a “sham and a charade”, former Senator James Heffernan was ordered by Gardaí to leave the courtroom when he carried a sliotar into the public gallery
More that 100 bank repossession cases were listed before County Registrar Pat Wallace from 10am last Friday as a small group of peaceful protestors from the Anti Eviction Task force gathered outside the courthouse.
Unlike last May when more than 100 banner waving protestors carried a coffin to the gates of the court-house, the small group of half a dozen were armed with nothing more than a guitar and a few songs.
Amongst the group was former Labour and Social Democratic election candidate and senator James Heffernan (37) who hit the headlines last August when he was arrested for drink driving and assault at the Indiependence music festival in Mitchelstown.
Speaking after he was ordered out of the courtroom last Friday, the qualified school teacher from Kilfinane said: “I kind of carry a sliotar where I go, I am from Limerick by the way.
“We are totally inoffensive, we don’t want violence. The RSU (Garda Regional Support Unit) were deployed the first day we were here and the last day there was a huge police presence and there is a big Garda presence here again.”
As Mr Wallace heard cases inside in the courtroom, upwards of 18 Gardaí, including two sergeants and an inspector, were positioned around the courtroom.
“i have spoken to a lot of those guards and off the record they tell me that they are fully in support of everything that we are doing because many of them are in debt to the banks themselves.
“For instance there was a Garda here the last day and she was only three weeks on the force and she hadn’t been paid yet and she didn’t know how she was going to feed her children. Yet she was thrown in to a frontline situation, or what was perceived to be a frontline situation, when there was only six of us here to support people who were being thrown out of their homes.
“There are 100 homes, family homes a lot of them, up for repossession, at a time when €13 billion is owed by Apple to the State and that’s just one company in particular.
“Another €8 billion was taken from the Credit Union network and given to AIB and Bank of Ireland to prop them up. These are the same type of banks that are throwing people out of their homes.
“It is just totally unjust, totally unfair and we are told that it is unconstitutional by the Supreme Court a number of weeks ago but it’s still going on.
“We are here today to support those being brought to court by the banks and to show them how to get out of this trap they are in.
“We want to show them that this whole thing is a pure sham and a charade and how it can be beaten.
“This is something that happened in the 1800s and it is happening again now. This is not the Ireland that I want to live in and it is not the Ireland that many want to live in, so I want to strive for a better country.”
The former senator has praised the “fantastic work that the Anti Eviction Task force does”.
“I work with them and I support them in every way I can. They are a voluntary group and they don’t have the money that the solicitors, barristers and banks have and they are doing it off their own bat and I think it has to be totally commended.”
After posing for a picture, Mr Heffernan returned to the group and sang songs outside the courthouse until the proceedings inside had finished.