On Friday last, 25th April, the Land League attended at the forced sale by auction of a family farm at the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co. Leitrim. The auction resulted from an endeavour by the ACC bank to sell the farm belonging to a family from the Boyle area in Co. Roscommon. This matter is currently before the courts and it would appear that this was a pre-emptive attempt by the ACC to pre-judge the outcome of the courts.
This event was one of the most encouraging (also emotional) events I have participated in for a long time, while at the same time recognising that the main purpose for being there was to prevent the sale of a family farm.
Maybe it was the large crowd of at least 250 people that showed up, or the fact that the owner of the hotel was upset at the manner in which the auctioneer surreptitiously booked his hotel for the farm sale, or maybe it was a combination of several other issues but it was most heartening to see the response of the local community, and in particular Joe Dolan, who was the true hero of the day and a genuine representative of the feelings of his community.
Because of the actions of Joe Dolan, not only was the sale of the farm prevented but the sale of the other properties failed to go ahead after he stepped in to cancel the auction. Prior to the start of the auction I spoke with Joe Dolan and found him to be a man of integrity, upset at the way that the banking system was trying to undermine a member of his community, and further upset by the manner in which he felt he had been deceived into allowing his hotel to be used for this type of sale.
This also comes across clearly from the interview he gave later to Reality Ireland. This interview is a 'must see' and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RedupqKelao or else go on to www.youtube.com and do a search for "Reality Ireland" where the interview is titled: "Maybe they're Common in the Shelbourne, but not in Leitrim"
He felt he had to cancel the auction as the room to be used for the event was insured to hold only 50 people, but there up to 150 people in the room. Mr. Dolan informed the assembled group, to substantial applause, that he was required under Health and Safety legislation to prevent the auction going ahead and asked everyone to vacate the room.
Further, he invited all present to partake of free refreshments informing the assembled group that the ham, chicken, etc and bread were provided by the lcoal retailers -all further indication that the local community supported the hotel and the family whose farm was for sale.
The main message from this that we must take is that with a little support the local community stood by this family and in so doing it encouraged others to come forward and show that they too were willing to stand with others. Without one unkind word being said, just through the sheer numbers that turned up we saw that people-power works, it prevented the auction going ahead, it strengthened the community and gave courage to others there who saw that simply standing with others they can bring about change.
The brilliant thing about this event is that we, as outsiders, to the community only had to be there, to be seen to stand with them, we didn't have to intervene or say anything - this in itself allowed the community of Boyle and Carrick-on-Shannon to stand together to bring about the changes they wanted. This is an example of people empowering themselves, taking control of their destiny and if we, in the Land League, can encourage others to do likewise imagine the changes we can all, together, bring about?
Thanks must also go to the other groups that supported this event, in particular the Anti-eviction Taskforce led by Sharon Murphy from Bettystown, with a large turnout from local representatives of Sinn Féin. I am sure there were other groups there that I did not get to speak with but to everyone that came to this event, and to those that wanted to come but couldn't due to other committments - well done. We all need to recognise the significance of what happened in Carrick-on-Shannon.
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