The New Land League in Ireland: Cranks or Champions For Irish Defaulters

Irish National Land League Commemorative Stone & plaque at Daly's Hotel, The Mall, Castlebar
Irish National Land League - Photo Credit Diego Sideburns(Flickr)

 

The involvement of  the New Land League movement in the recent repossession case between the Bank Of Ireland and the O’Donnell family at their Gorse Hill mansion in Killiney has seriously undermined the credibility and role of this supposed tenant right’s organisation. Furthermore, the comments by its leader Gerry Beades on the Vincent Browne Tonight show referring to the €7m Gorse Hill property as a “bog standard house” has given credence to the idea that this is some kind of crank organisation for the wealthy, and a far cry from the original ideology of the 19th century Land League established by Michael Davitt.

Who is behind the New Land League and what are the principles that they stand for?

The organisation has its foundation back  in 2013 when a protest group marching to the former Anglo-Irish bank building in Dublin heard about an auction of distressed properties being held by the  Allsop property auction group in a Dublin hotel. The auction was successfully disrupted by protestors and it was after this that the New Land League was founded with the aims of highlighting issues people have with the banks, mainly around evictions. They managed to force the cancellation of a subsequent auction in  Dublin when 100 protesters  from the New Land League showed up.

Gerry Beades its leader (a property developer and entrepreneur) was successfully pursued by Bank of Scotland for money loaned to him for property development back in 2012, when the court  awarded  the bank a settlement of €9.7 million against Mr. Beades.

This is the mission statement  of the organisation as coined on the New Land League website:

DECLERATION OF FACT regarding the failings of High Court Judge Brian McGovern & Other Judicial Appointees

“I Jerry Beades P.C. do solemnly and sincerely declare that this Statement of Fact is made from my own experiences of the Irish Court system I am also spokesperson of the new land League which has been involved in supporting families to stay in their homes and on family farms.”

According to the New Land League where the bank is relying on the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act of 2013 to gain possession of a property, they offer the following Notice (below) to be used in legal submissions defending such actions.

The New Land League argues that the constitutionality of this Act is now in question and  that in the interim the courts should not proceed under this Act until the Supreme Court has decided on the challenge. What they are specifically referring to is the Tom Darcy’s Supreme Court challenge to the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013. On the 22nd of January 2015 Tom Darcy(A MEP candidate in Dublin for the Direct Democracy Ireland Party)  mounted a constitutional challenge through the courts to have the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013 declared null and void. Darcy with the assistance of the Dean of Griffith College School of Law claims the Act is repugnant to the Irish Constitution and the EU Charter of Human Rights. The case(NO: 2014/755P) is pending hearing in the Supreme Court and will see Tom Darcy pitted against Minister of Justice, Equality & Law Reform and the Attorney General.

Is the path of the New Land League paved with good intentions?
With some 50,000 possession orders expected to be sought in the courts in 2015. This could potentially result in 200,000 men women and children being evicted, with little hope of them being able to find or afford anywhere to live. The New Land league claims to be agitating on behalf of these distressed people by  turning up at properties to block sheriffs and bailiffs, by providing support to people  in court who have been served with repossession orders and to stop banks using summary judgements to unlawfully take property from these people.

Many people have been puzzled by the New Land Leagues attempts to stand by the one-time global property dealer Brian O’Donnell, but the New Land League has defended its decision to do so. Jerry Beades argues that the issues are the same whether a person owes €50,000 or €5million. Beades claims that the O’Donnell bank cases demonstrates all that is wrong with the justice system and banking in Ireland.He states that the New Land League would help anyone whose home is threatened by Ireland’s banks that were once themselves rescued by the Irish and European taxpayers. The high profile O’Donnell eviction case has provided a means by which the New Land League can highlight the plight of the potential 200,000 men, women and children who may be in danger of being evicted from their homes as the banks seek to tighten the squeeze on distressed borrowers. As Jerry Beades has publicly stated about the organisation “ we help big and small, we are not compiling a Schindler’s List of who stays or who goes.”

Does the New Land League bear any resemblance to the original Land League of the 19th century?

The New land league - Photo Credit
The New land league – Photo Credit
William Murphy(Flickr)

 

The New land League is styling itself around similar objectives to the original land league although this time around the landlords are not wealthy absentee English aristocrats but the Irish banks who were bailed out themselves by the Irish Taxpayer. As Tom Darcy has pointed out at a recent meeting of the New Land League in Naas Co. Kildare  “If you were told the truth back when you entered the mortgage contract that the bank was insolvent, was operating illegally without a perfected banking licence, had insufficient capital requirements, manipulated its financial status, and that they would sell your loan to a third party would you have signed that contract.” Tom Darcy’s contention is that if the people who were unfortunate enough to enter these contracts had been made fully aware of the true state of the finances of the  Irish Banks they would never have signed them in thee first place.