Bryan Wall: A Way Forward Or A Step Back?


From top: eviction in Falsk, Strokestown, County Roscommon; Bryan Wall

How do we react when we see injustice? Do we stand by the wayside observing and waiting for the outcome before we pick a side? Even the idea that there is a side to be picked when witnessing obvious injustice is farcical.

Or do we intervene?

Not knowing all the facts means that we enter the fray at a certain risk, be it physical or otherwise. Nonetheless, do we leap in hoping that all the facts — the truth — will become apparent in time but that right now some form of reaction is beholden upon us?

These are not easy questions to answer. It is down to all of us as individuals that make that decision for ourselves.

On the other hand, there are times when an injustice is so overwhelming, so blatant, and the perpetrators so self-satisfied in the protection that is afforded them, that we cannot but intervene.

To do otherwise would be to lend a sheen of approval to the injustice that we are witnessing.

The events in Roscommon over the last two weeks may not have been a turning point, but they are indicative of something that is both hopeful and obversely holds a dangerous potential.

A family, having lost their home to a bank, were to be duly evicted. Instead, what we saw in the video that has gone viral was a base display of injustice and cruelty, no matter how apologists in the media and elsewhere try to dress it up.

Gardaí were present and witnessed a man being assaulted by mercenaries, yet chose to stand by the wayside in order for the group to carry on their assault, evict the family, and occupy the house. Did those involved, the bank, the mercenaries, and the Gardaí really expect that nothing more would come of this?

Perhaps they did. That would explain the shock in the media and online when the evictors were themselves evicted last Sunday morning by a large group of — some reports said as many as 70 — people. Personally, I was not shocked and I’m sure neither were many others; merely surprised.

A feeling of shock would be justified on the premise that we did not see something like this coming or that it was unpredictable. Quite frankly then, it was not shocking.

It was surprising, however, in that a reaction or countermove of the kind and scale that took place on the morning of Sunday, December 16 occurred.

This makes the events that took place both hopeful and dangerous. What those inspired by the actions of that Sunday do next will determine the atmosphere in which further steps are taken.

That Sunday morning was a direct confrontation with the forces of rampant capitalism and its foot soldiers.

This has to be dismissed out of hand though as the actions of dissidents or jilted security guards. The idea that people may not be pleased to see their neighbours brutalised whilst being evicted from their family home is a force to be reckoned with.

Add in the general contempt that the government seems to hold the general population in and you have a formula for direct action aimed at both the individuals representing, and symbols of, power.

If the next steps are to involve the denigration of those not appropriately Irish alongside the use of direct action as a panacea for the iniquities of the government and elites, then the Far Right will pose a far bigger threat than they currently do. And this is their goal; the co-opting of the anger and discontent that people feel and channelling it into a cause in which injustice is fought with inhumanity.

It may not be 1933 but the tactics are of that time. Ben Gilroy was recently interviewed on the YouTube channel of a well-known talking head of the Irish Far Right.

The host argued that if the smaller parties of the Far Right, such as Irexit, Renua, and others, “could come together, coalesce together, and get one personality”, which would then offer “something tangible that the people can get behind”, then that would present “an opportunity”.

Mr Gilroy agreed, and related that “one of the top-ranking Gardaí said to me… ‘We’re with you. We just can’t come out publicly and be with you.’”

Mr Gilroy is perhaps exaggerating but a level of discontent does exist within the Gardaí. And like the general public, it is rife for exploitation at the hands of insidious forces.

In the last week, Mr Gilroy has also appeared as a public representative of Yellow Vest Ireland. Last weekend he made a speech during their first protest in Dublin and made yet another just this weekend. In the interview mentioned, he states that he “was asked to promote the Yellow Vest movement”.

Given his association with this version of the Yellow Vests, and his own political background and associates, there is clearly an attempt underway to co-opt the image of the French Gilet Jaunes for ends other than those of justice.

This has not gone unnoticed. The family at the centre of the eviction in Roscommon issued a statement, part of which was clearly referencing the Ben Gilroy version of the Yellow Vests. They asked that any protest not be “‘hijacked’ by any organisation with ulterior motives.”

Furthermore, “they wish to distance themselves from any reference to imitations of the ‘yellow-vest’ or alt-right movements.”

Contempt from the elite directed at the supposedly lessers in society always engenders the creation of political movements dedicated to change. But as mentioned there is the potential for reactionary elements to latch on to this, hence the danger in the early stages of a fomenting discontent.

From here they use the very real pain of the public to attain power by promising them cure-alls. Once they have solidified their power they then proceed to eliminate groups they perceive as corrupted or corrupting.

This duality is inherent in the early stages of any revolutionary moment. Given that social change was never achieved by a softly-softly approach — that it arrives due to disobedience, tumult, and sometimes revolution — it always holds the possibility of corruption or destruction from within and without.

As things currently stand, it appears that the Far Right variant of the Yellow Vests are making headway. And as more evictions are coming, if the Left continues to flounder on the sidelines then the future of Irish political protest seems bleak.

What does signal hopefulness is that there is some awareness of the tactics of the Far Right. One can also be hopeful in that the initial moves on the part of the people in Roscommon were done independently of any nefarious influence coming from purveyors of Far Right talking points.

A movement that directly tackles injustice, takes on the government and its shock troops whilst retaining a core ethos of equality and inclusion is the only widespread movement that must be allowed to come to fruition.

The alternative is a movement with an ever-increasing circumference of enemies to be dealt with inhumanely while claiming to represent the “real Irish”. So this is the question that lays in front of us: Do we want a movement that represents everyone or a movement that deals in nativist absolutes?

How we answer that question will determine the political landscape for a long time to come.

Bryan Wall is an independent journalist based in Cork. His column appears here every Monday. Read more of his work here and follow Bryan on twitter:  @Bryan_Wall

19 thoughts on “Bryan Wall: A Way Forward Or A Step Back?

  1. Gorugeen

    Having seen first hand the disgraceful behaviour of Ben Gilroy it’s no surprise the Strokes town family wanted to distance themselves.

  2. MaryLou's ArmaLite

    Jayzus you are some edjit.

    The vigilantes were not his neighbours, they were from all the border counties. That house was an IRA house, the vigilantes were not having Brits evicting people from an IRA house in the Republic. If the group doing the eviction were not Brits, the vigilante mob would likely have not happened.

    You can chalk it down to some mass movement, but in reality it is just old fashioned tribal feuding.

      1. jusayinlike

        Of course he doesn’t. He does sound scared though.

        Just parrots lies printed by the fg subsidised INM rags. Mostly whinging about sinn from.

        1. Roscommunist

          That’s complete rubbish and you know it. IRA house my eye! Not a single person in Strokestown or surrounding areas would refer to the mcGanns in such a way.
          You sir are a spoofer.

    1. dylad

      Christ. The level of discourse on Broadsheet has declined greatly with the migration of the likes of you from the

  3. rotide

    “A family, having lost their home to a bank”

    They didn’t lose their home to a bank. They lost their home to a member of their family being incredibly reckless with money and refusing to pay up.

    The fact you compare the original legal reposession with nazi germany and ignore the vigilante mob shows ridiculous ignorance.

    1. Col

      Also, what relevance that it was a “family”? There were no children involved. I feel this word is more emotive than saying three “adults”, “individuals” or “people”.

  4. Freddie

    This roving gang of mercenaries randomly assaulting families and stealing their houses needs to be stopped asap.

    Ah no really though, if a party enters into a business deal and puts up their house as collateral then if the deal goes south they can expect to lose their house.
    The end.

    Things like their age or if they call the house their home or the nationality of the lads hired by the sheriff or the perceived equity of the economic system they operate in are not relevant.

    1. Cathal

      Some of the details on the house are a bit odd. The mother died in 2015. Surely the house would have been hers till then. The guy may have borrowed against the land but the house may not be part of the debt

    2. Formerly known as

      Did the bank give out loans recklessly? Did the borrower have a realistic chance of paying it back? Could pother arrangements be made, such as a covenant on the property?

      1. Termagant

        Of course the borrower had a reasonable chance to pay the loan back. By means of the house. Those were the terms of the loan.

        1. Cathal

          There’s a 100 acres or so along with the house, what I’m guessing is that the house wasn’t in the loan. As the mum was still alive and the other siblings resided there so it would have been unlikely that it could be borrowed against. The original reports said that only one name was on the court order. If the case we’re as ongoing as the Indo claim the three siblings and possibly the deceased mother’s name should have been listed. If KBC loaned money on a asset that wasn’t owned by the borrower then that is fraud by both parties?

          1. Cian

            Is it just a guess? Do have any reason to think this?
            I’d be surprised if what you wrote was true as it has been through the courts a number of times. I’d expect someone to notice that.

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