ALMOST one year after he barricaded himself and his five children into their home to fight the threat of eviction, West Limerick farmer Seamus Sherlock has spoken of his “relief” at reaching a deal with his creditors.
Mr Sherlock this week reached an agreement with Bank of Scotland over an unpaid €400,000 loan that will see him and his family remain in their home. The deal brings to an end Mr Sherlock’s long-running protest at his Feohanagh farm, which saw impromptu barricades erected, attracted hundreds of supporters from across the country, and drew media attention from as far afield as the United States.
Speaking this Wednesday Mr Sherlock said that he was happy the “stressful” experience was over, and paid tribute to the family and friends that have supported him since his protest began on August 16 last year.
“I’m relieved more than pleased. It was going on a long time. The one positive thing coming out of it was giving people hope. A lot of people called to me, local people, asking me ‘is it true?’. Hope was in short supply for a long time”.
Mr Sherlock’s campaign began after he received an eviction notice for his house and 50 acre farm, which he took out a €400,000 loan to purchase. Mr Sherlock, who was already well-known as an anti-debt campaigner, responded by using silage bales to block a gate at the entrance to his property. Word of his stance quickly spread across the country, and within days anti-eviction campaigners from across Ireland began to congregate on his property in support. Makeshift campsites were erected, donations of food, fuel and materials were made by sympathetic locals, and a stand-off that would last over 300 days began.
This Tuesday, in a statement issued through his solicitors, Mr Sherlock confirmed that after months of negotiations an agreement had been reached with Bank of Scotland that would allow him and his family to stay in their home. “We have resolved our financial difficulties with Bank of Scotland, and the receiver appointed by the bank”, the statement read.
“I wish to thank all of those from right across the country who had assisted us in our efforts to save the family farm, and who have expended a huge amount of their time, effort and resources in helping us through a very difficult time”.
Mr Sherlock said this Wednesday that there is still a “stigma” attached to debt in Ireland, and that he hopes his example can help give people hope.
“I never gave up hope. I lost friends who couldn’t cope. I still get a few calls, not as many as before, from people who are struggling. A couple of people still call to me here, but it’s always late at night. I think the stigma is still there.
“It was very stressful. It’s not something I ever thought I’d have to deal with; it’s not something I ever wanted. But I’m fiercely proud of my family, who stood by me. I just want to thank the people of Limerick for all the support they gave me”.