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Rosaries, repossessions and courtroom chaos


Marguerite Corbett and Gerry O’Boyle of The Land League and members of Integrity Ireland outside Castlebar Courthouse yesterday.
?Marguerite Corbett and Gerry O’Boyle of The Land League and members of Integrity Ireland outside Castlebar Courthouse yesterday.?Pic: Michael Mc Laughlin

Rosaries, repossessions and courtroom chaos

Five repossession orders issued in Mayo

Áine Ryan and Neill O’Neill

RECITING the Rosary, sprinkling holy water, heckling and repeated protests did not stop the issuing of five orders for the repossession of houses by banks in a Castlebar Court yesterday. County Registrar Fintan Murphy was forced to adjourn proceedings twice, and at one point move courtrooms, as he endeavoured to address 110 cases before yesterday’s (Monday’s) sitting of the monthly Registrar’s Court. Protesters referred to his relationship to left-wing TD, Paul Murphy, who is his nephew. “He wasn’t up in Dublin out on the streets with his nephew, Paul Murphy, I bet,” said one heckler. The group of some 20 protesters included members of Integrity Ireland and Land League West.
Three years ago the average amount of such cases at a monthly sitting was often just two or three, now there can be up to 137. Ultimately, 15 of yesterday’s actions were resolved amicably between the borrowers and bankers, but five culminated in repossession orders. The the remainder trundle on through the court process.

Courtroom chaos
Entreating protesters ‘to respect the fact that this was already a fraught and stressful enough situation for those against whom actions were taking place’, an hour into proceedings Mr Murphy was forced to adjourn.
After his return at noon, the situation became so untenable he decided to move to another courtroom. He asked that only those directly involved in cases remain in the room. One protester refused to leave, arguing he was an ‘amicus curiae’ (a friend of the court).
After an adjournment for lunch, the disruption escalated to such a level that An Garda Síochána removed two men from the court. No arrests were made, however.

‘Constitution shredded’
Commenting afterwards on Facebook, Michael Joe McGreal, a Castlebar Debt Mediator said the court was ‘a very sad place to be’ yesterday.  
“The Constitution has been shredded in Castlebar today. County Registar has moved court and Gardaí letting people in one by one as case called. I represent a family facing the high road and may not be able to gain access. Must say Fintan Murphy the County Registrar has acted as a true gentleman throughout. The Gardaí also acting with great dignity. The problem lies elsewhere.”

AFTER leaving the courthouse the protesters made their way to the neighbouring garda station, where they sought to make an official complaint about the actions of the County Registrar and two garda sergeants. Mr Stephen Manning, of Integrity Ireland, questioned the legal grounds on which protesters were ejected from the court. He also asked why they had not been charged if they had, in fact, committed an offence.  
The public office at Castlebar Garda Station was subsequently filled with protesters for over half an hour. They were informed that Supt Joe McKenna, whom they had requested to meet, was not available. They were then told to leave a name and contact details and that the superintendent would respond in due course to their complaint.  
Mr Manning told the assembled media that Mr Murphy had been ‘out of order’ in his actions.

COMMENTING afterwards, Mr Manning said: “What he [Mr Murphy] has done is a switcharoo … move from one court to another and place guards at the door to prevent us raising our legitimate, lawful, objections.
“Today, gardaí have turned on their own people, and it is a serious blow to democracy. Gardaí have denied us our rights today and Integrity Ireland is going to do its best to stop that.”
Speaking to The Mayo News, Gerry O’Boyle of Land League West said: “We were run out of court as far as we can see in a total political assassination today, but I also got kicked out of a meeting with Fine Gael in Roscommon.
“The jurisdiction of the Circuit Court reaches only to a value of €38,000, but they are dealing in much higher figures here with the value of these properties. It is unlawful. I will be running in the next year’s election in Mayo, and when I get elected I am going to bring better standards, not ghost stories and false promises. There is no representation by our elected TDs here today; they are allowing family homes to be repossessed.
“I am representing people here today as a lay litigant, through the Land League, but I was refused entry,” he added.
Mr O’Boyle warned that his organisation would be ‘upping the ante’, and said the authorities appeared to be backing the protesters into a more militant situation.
“We bailed the banks out. Now we are getting sold out. We are not going to stand for this. We will stand together,” Mr O’Boyle said. He said an even bigger protest turnout is expected at similar repossession cases due to be heard in Galway.