PROTESTORS have vowed to return to support Lee Wellstead if the county sheriff returns to evict him from his property, in Knockanina, near Castletown.
Last week deputy sheriff Pat Dunne, accompanied by the Gardaí, confronted Mr Wellstead at the gates of his property where a large crowd had gathered. Mr Wellstead faces eviction from his home after having lost a long running battle against Ulster Bank in the Commercial Court.
Mr Wellstead had support from groups including People Before Profit, Freedom From All Debt, the Defend Our Homes League, Its Not Our Debt and the Anti-Eviction Task Force. Mr Ben Gilroy from Freedom from all Debt spoke on behalf of Mr Wellstead and aruged that the sheriff’s actions were not constitutional. After a lengthy debate between the two parties, the deputy sheriff departed the property.
United Left Alliance member Ray Fitzpatrick who was also present at the protest last week, told the Leinster Express that those involved had pledged to mount another protest if the sheriff was to arrive at the property again.
“We have heard nothing since last week. The county registrar is going to have to contact Mr Wellstead again when he is in a position to re-serve the eviction notice. We belive he will out of courtesy contact him”, said Mr Fitzpatrick.
As well as the action groups, there were a number of locals there last week to support Mr Wellstead.
Mr Fitzpatrick said that he was not aware of any other homeowners in Laois in the same situation.
“People have to contact us if they would like help. We can be there not just at evictions, but during court time if they would like support”.
He added that there was a lot of support for Mr Wellstead. “People recognise this is part of a bigger picture, this is called austerity.
“It’s about screwing us and creaming it for the elite. The people in the middle ground, who are part of the status quo are starting to smell a rat”.
He bought the three-bedroom property on four acres of land in Knockanina in 2003 for €80,000 and then acquired a top up loan on the mortgage of €30,000.
Subsequently he failed to keep up with his repayments, and the bank was granted a repossession order last year. Mr Fitzpatrick added that Mr Wellstead will not be giving his house keys back to the sheriff.