DRAMATIC scenes were witnessed in Limerick Circuit Court as homeowners and protestors brought proceedings to a standstill during the latest repossessions hearing.
In all, 126 cases were before the court this Friday, of which 11 orders - or nearly nine per cent - were granted.
Just over an hour and a half into proceedings, one home-owner approached the bench and asked for county registrar Pat Wallace to read a document.
Mr Wallace repeatedly asked him to sit down, informing him that he was “interfering with due process of the law”, but he refused to be seated.
Ken Smollen, the leader of the Irish Democratic Party, then stood up in court, and was joined by nearly 30 homeowners and protestors who arose from their seats, telling Mr Wallace that “what the State is doing is criminal”.
Mr Wallace was forced to leave the courtroom until calm returned, amid cheers and claps from the back benches.
“I’m here because the Government has stated that they are going to announce plans in the coming weeks to help keep families in their homes. Would it not be fair and appropriate for these cases to be adjourned until the Government announces these plans rather than make people homeless?,” asked Mr Smollen, a former member of An Garda Siochana.
“So many of these people are un-represented and don’t know where to go for help. They have never been in court before. The IDP are carrying out a public awareness campaign to highlight what’s going on throughout the country. There are up to 40,000 to 50,000 family homes up for repossession across the country. This is something similar to what happened in the 1800s,” he told the Limerick Leader.
When Mr Wallace returned, some 20 minutes later, he said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve a job to do. I’m sorry for your predicament. I’ll have to leave again if there’s a disruption.”
The court heard that a well known political family from Cork are “playing” representatives of TSB in relation to a property in Limerick.
“They don’t answer calls, they don’t return calls, and the last payment was in July 2013,” said a representative of the bank. The arrears owed amount of €19,600, with a overall debt of €97,284. The case has been adjourned to July.
In a small number of cases, home owners did not appear in court when orders were made granting the banks possession.
The majority of cases were adjourned to further hearings on either July 3 or September 4 to allow them to get their financial affairs in order.
In another case, also taken by TSB, Mr Wallace urged a man now residing in Qatar to face up to his financial affairs. The property is worth in the region of half a million, with arrears creeping up to €100,000.
“He has effectively abandoned his wife and child to go and live in Qatar,” the court was told.
Mr Wallace said “he can’t just disappear and say this is nothing to do with me”.
It is the fifth time the case has been listed for resolution. The last payment made was in June 2012. It too has been adjourned to July 3.
Separation, family law proceedings, unemployment and accidents were again a feature of the majority of cases. A small number were also struck out after restructuring arrangements were found with the banks, or where individuals were able to begin to make payments on their arrears again.