Belfast Telegraph

Anger at use of Northern Ireland firm in Roscommon eviction may be attack motive

Photo: The Democrat Newspaper, Roscommon.
Photo: The Democrat Newspaper, Roscommon.
Weapon: A pickaxe handle lies in the mud near repossessed home

By Tom Brady

Gardai are now investigating if the attack on security guards at a repossessed house in Co Roscommon was organised by people angered that some of the security work was given to a firm based in Northern Ireland.

It's believed the ringleaders of the group - which included at least 20 men - organised it through WhatsApp.

Although some of the individuals involved have links to dissident groups, gardai are now satisfied the main motive behind the incident was to show how unhappy they were with the decision to give the work to security personnel from across the border.

Officers believe that some of the attackers are security guards who were annoyed that many of those chosen to protect the house at Falsk, Strokestown, were from outside the jurisdiction.

Others were locals who opted to join in as a protest.

However, they did not realise that the incident was likely to turn so violent.

"This appears to be largely a case of teaching a lesson to the outsiders because of their selection for the job rather than a protest over the eviction of the family from the house the previous Tuesday," a senior officer said last night.

The suspects for the attack are from Dublin, Meath and Roscommon.

The masked attackers were armed with a shotgun, an axe and baseball bats.

The axe was used to inflict severe injuries to a dog, which had to be put down humanely afterwards.

Eight security guards at the house were injured and three of them had to receive treatment in hospital.

A number of vehicles were also set on fire.

Gardai said that while some of the organisers had links to dissident republican groups, the attack was not connected directly to those groups.

Gardai also dismissed rumours that the security guards were "loyalists" recruited in Northern Ireland for the work, although some of the guards are from Co Antrim.

Two companies were involved, and one of them is registered in this jurisdiction.

It is thought that some of the suspect attackers are also registered with the Private Security Authority.

Officers from the Garda Special Branch yesterday seized a shotgun, a lorry, teleporter and mobile phones in raids on three houses and outhouses in a yard at another location in Co Roscommon.

As a result of the gun find, two men in their 50s and 60s, were arrested and taken to Castlerea Garda station for questioning.

Meanwhile, a Sinn Fein representative has refused to condemn the vigilante attack.

Councillor Michael Mulligan insisted while he is against violence in general, he "can't condemn" this incident.

"I have to say I'd be disappointed if it didn't happen," he added.

"It's not where we want to be but I can't go out and condemn these people.

"How in the name of God could I go out and condemn these people?

"I'd be two-faced if I did," he said on Shannonside radio.

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