Belfast Telegraph

Dublin property auction abandoned amid protests and insults

Safety fears as mood turned ugly n Shouts of 'Black and Tan b*****ds'

By Nicola Anderson

A property auction cancelled for safety reasons following furious protests "will definitely still go ahead" at a future date, according to the auctioneers.

Allsop Space said the auction -- the 12th of its kind -- had been cancelled "in the interest of public safety".

Heated protests halted the property sale scheduled at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

It emerged that the protest had evolved accidentally -- the majority of protesters had been on their way to picket outside the Anglo Headquarters following last week's Anglo Tapes revelations in the Irish Independent.

But they spotted signs for the intended auction and diverted their attentions there.

Among the protesters was Jerry Beades -- a developer who is currently being pursued by Ulster Bank for €3.5m in unpaid loans and who is a close friend of disgraced Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Organisers of the event in the hotel admitted that they had expected it would be a quiet day, with few landmark or substantial properties among the 121 lots. However, from the outset it was clear that protesters angry at the fire sale of properties seized by banks intended to prevent the auction from going ahead.

Hundreds of would-be bidders had gathered for the auction at 10am, but around 15 minutes beforehand a man got to the podium protesting about the sale of Fallon's Pub in Newtowncashel, Co Longford -- which was to go under the hammer with a reserve of €80,000.

Dozens then joined in, heckling auctioneers from the back of the room, shouting: "Ireland is not for sale" and "Go home" -- referring to the fact that the firm is an offshoot of a UK company.

Mr Beades demanded to know if the auctioneers had the "good will of the owners" to sell the property.

Would-be purchasers were urged not to place bids on any properties, with Mr D'Arcy saying: "If you want to spend your money, help your neighbour."

Presiding auctioneer, Gary Murphy of Allsop UK, called for order and there was a break in the proceedings. When the auction resumed, the protest became more heated and scenes turned increasingly ugly with isolated xenophobic shouts of: "Black and Tan b*****ds" and "English scum out".

Several protesters sang a verse of the national anthem.

Protesters loudly proclaimed the words of Charles Stewart Parnell delivered in Ennis in 1880, calling for the boycott of anyone who "takes a farm from which another had been evicted".

"You must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him in the shop, you must shun him in the fairgreen and in the marketplace, and even in the place of worship," they quoted.

Gardai were called and stood at the back of the room observing the proceedings.

Independent TDs Mattie McGrath, Michael Healy-Rae and Tom Fleming urged organisers to call off the auction, saying the situation had become too sensitive.

At around 10.40am, there were victorious cheers as Allsops announced that it was abandoning the auction.

Robert Hoban, director of Auctions at Allsop Space, said the event was cancelled on safety grounds. And while protesters claimed the firm was British, he said it was an Irish-registered company with Irish employees.

"We cancelled today's auction. It is the first time we've done it," he said, adding that it was the sensible thing to do.

Allsop Space described the protest as "unlawful and ugly".

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