A bank hired loyalist paramilitaries and ex-British army personnel to evict a family from their County Dublin home, according to anti-eviction activists.
The incident took place in Balbriggan earlier this week on one of the coldest nights of the winter.
The bank ordered the gang to evict the family “despite them not having missed a single payment to the bank for six years”, according to Ben Gilroy of Direct Democracy.
The father, a former a soldier in the 26 County army, was assaulted by what was described as a “Northern Ireland eviction force” using blue police lights in their front windscreens.
Despite the combined attentions of the Gardai police and the eviction gang, the family ultimately succeeded in returning to their home with the help of supporters.
A protest subsequently took place outside the KBC in Dublin on Tuesday. Protestors marched a coffin to the headquarters of the bank in Dublin to voice their opposition to the sale of mortgages to so-called ‘vulture funds’, international capitalists who buy up distressed assets at firesale prices.
Independent TD Michael Collins said that the coffin represented the people who had “lost their lives” from suicide over the handling of mortgage arrears by the government and financial institutions.
Protestors also marched to the headquarters of Permanent TSB, which is 75% State owned, and is planning to sell off 18,000 properties, including 14,000 family homes, to vulture funds.
The families living in these homes now face the threat of eviction, despite paying tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of euro towards their mortgages.
Some homeowners who have already made arrangements with the bank about paying their debt face having their deals thrown out if the loans are sold on.
The protest was directed against Permanent TSB after its Chief Executive, Jeremy Masding, who refused to appear before the Finance Committee of the Dublin parliament.
Last week, Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty revealed that PTSB told the parliamentary committee that it has already entered into “confidentiality clauses” with vulture funds and has claimed it is restricted in speaking about certain issues.
While he said he is in favour of government proposals to regulate the vulture funds, it was not a “magical solution”. Long-term loans should not be sold to them under any circumstances, he said.
“They are only interested in the short-term turnaround and the quick turnaround,” he said, adding that the large profits of Irish banks who are currently tax free was “completely unacceptable”.
“Last week, we had Bank of Ireland announcing a billion euro in profit and dividends of 124 million. This week, we have the spectacle of AIB telling us they have made a profit of 1.6 billion euro and paid out a dividend of 325 million. In both cases, these profits are tax free.”
The profits were being made on the backs of Irish mortgage holders, he said. “The government must take action now and ensure that these banks are taxed fairly.”