At 5.30am on Wednesday 16th July Westmeath Co Council attempted to evict 3 families from council land they have grazed for over 40 years. Council staff and several Guards ordered tenants to remove their cattle or a waiting lorry would come to seize cows, young calves and pregnant heifers and transport them to a pound, the cost of recovering the animals to borne by tenants.
The tenants refused to move the cattle and neighbours, supporters, and reps of the Land League and the Farmers’ Rights Group arrived to join the picket. Also local councillor Una D’arcy of Sinn Fein. Local papers and radio started giving coverage to the stand off.
After 6 hours we were informed by a Guard (not by Liam Higgins of WCC, who was present) that the Council was withdrawing and no action would be taken that day. The notice of eviction still remains in force.
Tenants have since been approached in a round about way saying that the council will meet us and offering some deal not favourable to the tenants.
We think that it would be a help to the tenants in their campaign if Councillors and TDs from other parts of Ireland contacted Westmeath’s County Manager saying that they are aware of the situation and are disgusted that a local authority would treat citizens in this way. Media locally have focussed on fact that one tenant is an elderly widow with two sons relying on disability benefit. The only councillors supporting us in Westmeath are the three Sinn Fein reps, the main parties are too concerned with keeping in the good books of the Council staff.
Westmeath County Manager is Pat Gallagher Ph 044 9332000
Here are a few links to media coverage so far.