A tenant caught up in an eviction standoff which saw a main route into the city centre cut off on Tuesday, has said he hopes to continue living at the disputed property.
Eóin Meenan is among a number of tenants of the Great James Street house, who found themselves in the crosshairs of a debt dispute between the owner and his bank.
“I was woken up, my two year old and me, by two police officers and two bailiffs,” said Mr. Meenan, whose son Lorcán was in the house at the time of the stand-off.
“I thought, wow, they are coming to take my house off me.”
Extraordinary scenes were witnessed when a large group gathered to oppose the home’s repossession and the eviction of its occupants.
The Courts and Tribunal Service confirmed officials from the Enforcement of Judgments Office (EJO) attended the property in order to give effect to a Court Order.
Asking not to be named, the owner told the ‘Journal’ that the lender had not told him how much he owed but that if verifiable papers were produced he would pay it down.
“I’ve asked the lender to verify or prove the alleged claim. I’m willing to pay any proven outstanding debt owed but there was simply no response.”
Irrespective of the merits of the case Mr, Meenan was shocked at how it was handled.
“There was a whole rigmarole of ‘heavy boys’ coming into the house and barricading the place up. I’d arranged with a police officer that there’d be half an hour for my landlord to get here but within 20 minutes they had grinded the locks. I couldn’t even have my two year old child in the room because of the fumes. He was sitting in the middle of the floor screaming.”
Independent Councillor, Gary Donnelly, said: “The nature of how it was handled was ridiculous. It was way over the top.”
Sinn Féin Colr. Mickey Cooper added: “The whole policing operation was over the top.
“The street, which is a main arterial route into the city centre, was blocked for several hours.”
But Chief Inspector Paul McCracken said: “Police were present at the request of the EJO and our officers were there to support their staff.
“Due to the presence of a large vehicle blocking a one-way street as part of the enforcement operation, police were on scene to manage traffic.”
Regardless of the fallout Mr. Meenan vowed that he was staying put.
“This is where I’ve invested my money. I like the property. It’s close to local amenities. It has everything I need.
We’ve great neighbours.”