AN Achill man who drove a concrete mixer truck towards the gates of Leinster House last week is to appear before a sitting of Dublin District Court in November after he was charged with criminal damage.
At the beginning of last week, Joe McNamara (41) originally from Achill but living in Salthill, was relatively unknown to the world outside the world of property development. However all the changed last Wednesday morning when he made International headlines by driving his truck with the slogans ‘Toxic Bank Anglo’ €1,000,000 on golf balls’ and ‘€500k for golf’ displayed on his truck, towards the gates of Leinster House.
He then unfurled a banner at the bank of the truck with the words ‘The people have had enough, All politicians have been sacked with immediate effect, Power to the People’.
Gardaí were quick to the scene and arrested McNamara where he was detained overnight before appearing before Dublin District Court the following day. He was granted bail to appear before the court on November 25 and afterwards his solicitor, Cahir O’Higgins said that Mr McNamara wanted to make ‘a legitimate protest at what he believed to have been his unfair treatment at the hands of the banks’.
Within hours of the incident, Joe McNamara had become a cult hero to many people and was dubbed the ‘anglo avenger’ and ‘Joe the Trucker’ whose actions to some were an inspiration. A number of Facebook sites were created supporting his actions and calling for more protests against the Anglo Bailout.
A number of people phoned into the Liveline show on Radio One to give their support for Joe’s protest. Among them was Achill man James Kilbane who told The Mayo News that Joe had put a lot of people to work and was annoyed at the way he was treated.
“Joe McNamara is a very skilled man whom I have met at different charity events and I have great respect for him. He tried to do different things to put people to work and if he does not have a future in business it will be a disaster for places like Achill because we need people like him,” he said.
This was not the first time Joe carried out such a protest. The first protest occurred in April of this year when he parked the concrete mixer in front of the Anglo Irish Bank in Forster Street in Galway. It was revealed that he owes over €3 million to Anglo Irish Bank and his anger came after Anglo threatened to put his business into receivership after his repayments failed to cover the interest payments.
Originally from the village of Pollagh on Achill Island, Joe McNamara came from a large family and worked as a block layer before starting up Harmack Construction in Galway in the 1990’s. He was involved in a number of construction projects in the city and was involved in a number of charity events.
Along with his brothers, he travelled to South Africa to take part in the Niall Mellon Building project building five houses in seven days and raising thousands of Euro in the process. One of the Mayo businessmen who was with Joe on the trip was Oliver Kelleher who during the week described Mr McNamara as most conscientious and hard working. A keen piper, Joe is a member of the Pollagh Pipeband and every year travels to Achill to take part in the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. During the trip to South Africa, he brought his pipes and played them during the hand-over ceremony of the newly-constructed houses.
As well as being involved in the construction business, Joe also applied to develop a wind farm in Achill in the early part of the decade. Despite employing the services of Duncan Stewart to promote the project, it was turned down following a number of objections from local people.
Joe also became involved in the tourism industry and set up the Achill Leisure Group which held Horse Racing on Keel Beach in 2006. He also bought the Village Inn pub in Keel and sought to develop it into a 12 bedroom boutique hotel with underground car parking. Construction started in 2005 but efforts to change the original plans were denied and construction stopped. As a result of the lack of finance, a concrete hole has been left in the middle of the holiday village for the last four years, much to the annoyance of the local people.