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Masked Men In Paramilitary-Style Gear Escorted By Gardaí During Dublin Eviction

The incident late yesterday, when masked gardaí provided heavy protection to similarly masked, black-clad private security contractors attempting to gain entry to a shuttered building on North Frederick Street occupied by housing activists has drawn much adverse comment in the press and on social media. And rightly so. The extraordinary scenes of men in paramilitary-style clothing trying to cut and smash their way into a building in the city centre on behalf of a landlord, while members of an Garda Síochána in body-armour acted as their shield against protesters and inquisitive journalists, is deeply offensive to our moderns notions – and expectations – of policing in Ireland.

The confrontation in Dublin was redolent of nothing less than the Land War period of the late 19th century and the pen-and-ink images we saw in our history books of hired ruffians escorted by officers of the colonial Royal Irish Constabulary tossing people from their homes. If this is the new era of law enforcement we have been promised by Fine Gael and its partners in government, gardaí and unknown mercenary thugs illegally hiding their identity behind balaclavas, driving through the streets of the capital in an unmarked van with the front registration plate removed, then we are going backwards as a nation not forward.

10 comments on “Masked Men In Paramilitary-Style Gear Escorted By Gardaí During Dublin Eviction

  1. I wonder is there any truth to what I’ve heard that these men are former or current members of a known loyalist group and if so it’s even more disturbing that the Gardai are working with such people .

    • That was the accusation in relation to the attempted house eviction in the north Dublin town of Balbriggan. The security contractors were from the north-east of the island or the UK and had alleged loyalist and BA links.

      The van used in yesterdays fracas in the city centre had one UK reg-plate at the rear of the van. This could have been for Britain or the Six Counties, though the latter seems more likely. Its likely that certain individuals are hiring seemingly dubious security firms from Belfast to do their dirty work in this part of the country.

      • Hardly a surprise there and an opportunity for an enterprising (citizen) journalist to do a bit of digging.

      • Carried or displayed no ID which is a legal requirement for private security operatives , expect to see them at a house eviction near you soon .

        • ar an sliabh

          I think purely technically speaking, the security personnel present there were the Gardai, and only the acts applying to their license and identification were applicable. As the new Chief so nicely pointed out, they were wearing balaclavas for their protection and their numbers were visible on their uniforms. The masked paramilitaries, again, purely technically speaking, were “representatives of the property owner” and as such do not require any license of any sort to “inspect” or “access” “their” property, in particular as that property is not open to the public. They will attempt to sell it as akin to someone entering their private home or property, and getting into a physical squabble with a person that is somehow present there without authorisation. At least I believe that is the premise of that whole operation. The only item lacking any explanation whatsoever, is the part of the “squabble” not being acted upon by Gardai. You would expect them to at least attempt to stop physical violence from occurring right under their noses. Definitely expect to see that at the next few evictions, especially if it holds up in court.

  2. Since I’m not Irish this is really none of my business, but all the same I find these reports both surprising and very disturbing. If the heavies are being brought down from the North, then maybe you do need a hard border after all …

  3. Why will you not post my comments.

    • Hi Pat. Your recent comment was flagged by a reader for violating the Commenting Policy and was consequently deleted. Defamation laws in Ireland are (a) unusually strict by European or US standards, and (b) unusually all-encompassing by European or US standards. Even the slightest implication or insinuation can fall within the laws, which is why one needs to take such care with writing and publishing online content. Additionally, a certain degree of sensitivity is expected in the comments. Apologies if this seems quite strict but it’s for both your benefit and that of ASF. In the event of legal action the website (or its hosting and content management service, WordPress) would be legally obliged to supply any litigating parties with personal details relating to an errant commentator. Better to err on the side of caution than face ruinous court costs. Apologies again, but I hope you understand. ASF relies on readers to help monitor the Comments because of this situation.

  4. ar an sliabh

    I think this is very different from the evictions of the Land War. During the Land War most of the evicted tenants had properly taken possession of their lease and paid their rent, and were evicted regardless. Many had received notification that their lease was terminated and paid rent nonetheless, as they had no place to go. Only very few of them occupied a building they did not lease or rent. Not that a similarly profit-greed created housing crisis more or less forcing occupation of empty housing objects is any less despicable now than it was then, and the use of perhaps even “foreign” muscle in paramilitary disguise is any less disconcerting, but the victims of these evictions in the time of the Land War were facing far more dire consequences. As the leased land was often their primary source of food and shelter, they faced death by hunger and exposure to the elements. Even though what is happening isn’t right, the comparison, in my opinion, somewhat diminishes the anguish and suffering of the victims of the Land War. As for the our “new” Gardai, well, if you got PSNI running the show, you have to expect PSNI tactics. I am sure there is more of that to come.

  5. This could be an example of a global problem the rise in private “security contractors” and hired paramilitaries. You are seeing it in every continent these days. This erosion of the distinction between policeman and soldier, soldier and mercenary, mercenary and vigilante. And this could be the case, regardless of whether they have that kind of political connection or not.

    How much it resembles The Land War or not, I will leave to others. But to me, it looks an awful lot like a global problem where you have these people who are sort of “Hired security” who aren’t really police, G-Men (or equivalent in that country) or soldiers, but still act a bit like all of the above-sans any governmental or the usual legal oversight.

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