a scene reminiscent of a Famine era tale the Sheriff
and his men, ably assisted by a very large number
of the local constabulary, as servants of the local
landlord, evicted a tenant family in the early hours
of the morning - 4am to be precise, but this was
not 200 years ago but Friday April 28, 2006 in Blanchardstown,
The sheriff and his four bailiffs with the assistance
of anything up to fifty uniformed gardaí
and the further assistance of several members of
the armed response unit (with their faces covered)
evicted Yvonne O'Rourke and her family from their
home of 20 years on behalf of Fingal County Council.
On Friday 21 Yvonne, returning from a short break,
discovered an eviction notice at her home. The eviction
notice stated that she must vacate her house by
11am on Tuesday April 25. She approached a Councillor
friend who runs a club which one of her sons attends.
Yvonne approached the Council on Monday to try to
find out what was going on and why was she being
evicted. She was informed the reason was for rent
arrears and the anti-social behaviour of one of
her sons. He is a Republican prisoner in Portlaoise,
currently on remand and his charges are in no way
related to anti-social behaviour. Again I repeat
that he is on remand and has not been convicted,
it would then seem strange that he was used as an
The council said that Yvonne O'Rourke had ignored
several notices, warnings and indeed court dates.
Yvonne is adamant that she received no letters from
the council, either in relation to them evicting
her or warnings about antisocial behaviour. She
did have meetings with them from time to time, and
made agreements (which she readily admits she broke)
over the last three years when she got behind with
her rent due to a variety of circumstances.
Within a short time, with the help of family, friends
and neighbours Yvonne was in a position to pay 60%
of her rent arrears. She also filled the necessary
forms for her rent to be automatically removed from
her social welfare payment every week. Over two
hundred of her neighbours signed a petition to leave
Yvonne and her three sons (the youngest is nine)
in the family home. A local councillor met with
council officials and pleaded her case but to no
avail. The council would accept neither money nor
promises of payment and told her even if she paid
the full amount they would still evict her.
At this stage Yvonne began to feel uneasy about
the whole process as different comments were made
to her regarding her sons and the council's insistence
that she was being evicted no matter what. She was
further alarmed when plain clothes police made themselves
very visible in the area and drove in jeeps (the
jeeps that monitor protests) taking photographs
of her neighbours who were, along with herself and
her family, making a peaceful protest on her road.
The sheriff came and went but made no attempt to
enter her home - due to the presence of her loyal
neighbours no doubt. Those same neighbours gathered
a petition signed by two hundred of Yvonne's neighbours
and presented it to the council in an effort to
stay the eviction.
By Tuesday afternoon the council line had changed.
They realised that they were going to have to change
tactics or Yvonne's neighbours would continue to
protect her and her home. They said she was being
evicted for anti-social behaviour of one of her
sons who was joyriding and serious crime - but not
the same son as previously mentioned. They were
asked to produce the complaint or proof of this
activity but they could do neither. Again I must
mention Yvonne says that she has never received
correspondence or met with a Council official Pertaining
to a complaint of anti-social behaviour from any
of her children.
So in the early hours of Friday morning Yvonne was
put out of her home. In the midst of the chaos she
was asked to sign a document stating that she was
willing to leave. This she refused to sign. Her
two dogs were removed by individuals from the pound.
Yvonne said the level of intimidation in the garden
at that hour and in the darkness would have to be
seen to be believed. Most of her possessions are
in the boarded up house as she has no place to put
The council have now taken Yvonne and her family
off the housing list for two years, in the meantime
the welfare refuse to assist her with rent allowance
for private accommodation. She is at her wits end
at this stage. She freely admits that she owes rent
but vehemently disputes the amount and questions
why her son who is in Portlaoise for the last five
months is still on the rent. She cannot understand
why the substantial amount of cash she has now (thanks
to her neighbours and friends) will not be accepted
to leave her in her home. Three years ago she actually
applied to buy the house but was not accepted due
to her low income.
Yvonne believed she gave interviews and photographs
of the eviction to the Herald, the Northside
People and the Mirror but none have published
anything on the eviction. When she rang the Mirror
the editor denied he had sent any reporter to her
home. Yvonne has since learned that the Department
of Justice has taken out an injunction to prevent
the story being published.
Yvonne O'Rourke is not the only one who has been
evicted by Fingal County Council in the last ten
days of April. The numbers could be as high as 20.
But she is the only one who had such a contingent
of uniformed police, special branch, the helicopter
and sniffer dogs accompany the sheriff and his bailiffs.
The access roads to Yvonne's home were blocked by
balaclava -clad men who would not allow anyone to
enter the street while the sheriff was doing his
dirty work. It is in this fact that we must ask
whose purpose did the eviction of Yvonne O'Rourke
serve. Why did a huge contingent of uniformed Gardai
and an element of the ERU assist in her eviction?
Why then did the Department of Justice gain an injunction
to silence the media?
Despite the regulations that the council have published
in their own handbook, they never discussed complaints
of anti social behaviour with Yvonne. They performed
no investigation of the alleged anti social behaviour
because Yvonne was never interviewed about such
behaviour. They informed Yvonne that the Gardai
had informed them that her son was involved in serious
crime, there was no evidence given, if they had
evidence surely he would have been charged with
the alleged crime. They now will not even discuss
what the complaints are. It would appear that the
machinations of the infamous diplock courts have
obviously been well studied by the Fingal County
Yvonne O'Rourke's eldest son has already been subject
to an orchestrated smear campaign which thoroughly
vilified him in the media. The information was half
truths and miss-information obviously fed to several
pet reporters by the Gardai to criminalise a Republican.
With the Department of Justices hand so obvious
in this latest twist it would appear that the smear
campaign is far from over and the pressure on the
O'Rourke family is to be ramped up a gear.
I would ask any Republican to e-mail Fingal County
Council to protest this action taken at the behest
of the Gardai against an innocent and well liked
member of a Blanchardstown community.