Guards Attacked, Cars Burn in Irish Assault on Repossessed Home

(Bloomberg) -- A number of men attacked security guards and set cars on fire at a repossessed house in western Ireland Sunday, as anger at repossessions since the financial crisis bubbled over.

As many as 20 men armed with baseball bats attacked the rural property in Co. Roscommon, state broadcaster RTE reported Monday. A number of people were injured, with three requiring hospital treatment, Irish police said in an e-mail statement. A dog had to be put down, they added.

The level of repossessions in Ireland is still relatively low -- in the second quarter, 245 homes were seized. Still, they remain a particularly emotive issue. The attack in Roscommon, which dominated news outlets across the country Monday, has parallels to the so-called Land War in the late 1800s. Then, a backlash against repossessions helped fuel the movement for independence from Britain.

The assault came nearly a week after the property was repossessed on behalf of Brussels-based KBC Bank Group NV’s Irish unit. KBC is aware of the situation, declining to comment further, a spokesman said in an e-mail statement.

“The banking sector needs to have a rethink how we’re doing things, ” Michael Fitzmaurice, an independent lawmaker for the region, said in an RTE interview Monday. “A week before Christmas there are two people out of the three that never had any involvement with the bank or anyone else left homeless, that’s not a solution.”

Speaking in Ireland’s parliament last week, Fitzmaurice said “a group of 20 or 30 men with dogs” repossessed the property “aided and abetted” by the police.

“Irish people need to wake up,” he said.

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