"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik


Dublin Eviction Stopped by Bluebell Community and #éirígí

Here’s an example of what communities everywhere can do with a little help and direction.

Earlier today (June 6) the people of Bluebell, Dublin, mobilised for a community protest which prevented a local family from being evicted from their home. As a bailiff from the Dublin City Sheriff’s office arrived with his Garda escort to take possession of Darren Byrne’s home, they were confronted with a crowd of up to 100 local residents who were determined to prevent the repossession from taking place. Confronted with such a sizable protest, the bailiff beat a hasty retreat from Bluebell.

Darren Byrne, a lone parent, raised two of his children in the family home where he has lived for the last twenty years. Like so many others, Darren and his family have become victims of the economic crisis and the greed of the financial institutions.

A plumber by trade, Darren has been out of work since November 2008. Following his redundancy Darren successively negotiated a restructuring of his mortgage repayments, but then found himself unable to make these repayments. When faced with the choice of paying his mortgage or feeding himself and his family Darren rightly opted for the latter.

Despite Ulster Bank’s attempts to evict Darren and his family, they are determined to fight and stay in their home. In a great show of community spirit the people of Bluebell are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Byrne Family, and will continue to resist any attempt to force this local family onto the streets.
Speaking from Bluebell, éirígí Councillor Louise Minihan said, “Today’s protest was a great success with the local community turning out in large numbers to support the Byrne Family. The fact that upward of one hundred people gathered at the Byrne family home is testament to both the community spirit in this area and the high esteem that the Byrne family are held in.

“That the Dublin City Sherriff retreated in the face of today’s protest just goes to show the power of an organised and determined community. The Byrne family are determined to stay in their home and fight the repossession order. Today’s protest shows the local community is willing and able to stand behind them. For that the Byrne family and the people of Bluebell are to be commended.”

Speaking in relation to the wider issue of mortgage arrears and home evictions Minihan said, “Tens of thousands of families across the country are now unable to make their mortgage repayments. An increasing amount of these families are now facing the very real prospect of eviction, something which often evokes feelings of shame, embarrassment and failure.

“In truth these people are the victims of a morally bankrupt system that considers people and their homes to be nothing more than commodities to be sold, bought and repossessed. It is the bankers, estate agents, landlords, judiciary and politicians that oversee this system that should hang their heads in shame, embarrassment and failure.”

In conclusion Minihan encouraged other families to resist attempts to evict them, “The Byrne family are just the latest of a growing number of families that are refusing to go quietly into the night. They are an inspiration to families across the country who find themselves in similar circumstances. All working people are in this mess together. We have all been forced to pay for the bank bailout so why shouldn’t we come together again to fight evictions by those same banks?

“éirígí helped the Byrne family organise today’s protest and the community response was a powerful statement of intent. I have no doubt that other communities would respond in a similar way, but they can only do so if they are asked. We in éirígí are willing to do what we can to help families that find themselves in a similar position to that of the Byrne family, to assist them in building a community response to what is a community problem. Those who find themselves in such a situation shouldn’t hesitate to contact éirígí.”



Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few months by the coalition government about the need for the public to accept difficult decisions that the state are making on our behalf.

These decisions are now about to affect all of us. Decisions we were not party to and have little say in. Most of them will likely be irreversible.

As you know,they involve cuts in our services such as in our health care system, in housing, cuts to state benefits, cuts in education, in fact few sectors of public ownership will remain untouched. More than that though, the level of cuts to the public purse are starting to affect the private sector too and very few of us over the next few years will be unaffected.

Let’s be brutally honest here-many of us will soon be losing our jobs, our houses, our benefits, in fact our whole way of life will likely see major upheaval, all across the country. Norfolk will not be spared, in fact there’s every reason to believe we’ll be one of the worst hit regions.

While this is occurring the left-wing in Britain march in our cities waving placards declaring FIGHT BACK and the right-wing rub their hands with glee and constantly repeat the mantra IT’S ALL LABOUR’S FAULT.

What the left-wingers mean is

‘I have a public sector job-support me or you’ll regret it!’

They offer little response when you ask,

‘Why? What are you going to do for us? Why aren’t you marching on our estates and offering us assistance-we’re the ones who’ll really be hit!’

What the right-wingers mean is

‘Don’t blame us for the mess we’re about to launch at you, just be grateful you live in Britain! We suggest you blame the foreigners among you.’

They offer little response when you ask,

‘How come the wealthiest in our country are getting wealthier and the rest of us are close to losing everything? If it’s all Labour fault why is there an international financial crisis, did they cause that too?’

We believe neither the left-wing or the right-wing, or the political parties that represent these clubs that come knocking for a few days every four years at election time with their promises, care one iota what happens to us as long as we do not become a problem. We are required to support the left, and accept the actions of the right.

Likewise while the right-wing would have us at each other’s throats using race as the issue, the left-wing would define us by identity (race, sexuality, disability, age, etc) and separate us accordingly, our own identity ghettos if you like.

These are simply two sides of the same coin. Both actions take away our fundamental and collective unifying force which is the power to organise ourselves and our lives based on our common goals and interests. No longer should we be celebrating our differences but recognizing our similarities.

And we should start by organising ourselves within our streets, neighbourhoods and communities.

We recently received a message from a supporter we have been speaking to over the phone,

“ I feel very strongly these groups are very important to communities – there are many people dealing with very serious problems with anti social behaviour, problems with their neighbours and hate campaigns where serious threats of harm are made to some families and the Police say they are unable to help as the communities are too scared to speak out in fear of  a back lash mostly due to of race, disability, culture and religion or just being a bit different? From personal experiences I have and am still fighting a battle of over 2 years against being bullied by local drug dealers, anti social behaviour and isolation and a hate campaign due to disability/mental health issues of a young member of our family. We have been forced into isolation and our neighbours around us from being able to speak to us in fear of them being targeted next, leading us to be forced to leave our home and friends just because they are not willing to be bullied by the offending people and do there best to report issues of crime in their community.

It was only 1 week ago the situation got so dangerous we were offered safe-housing in a B&B in a non disabled friendly place over 50 miles away from our loved ones and our pets to be put in kennels. But as much as we were scared and very fragile we refused to be bullied out of our home until we are ready and have somewhere suitable for our needs. – congratulations to those who have set up these support groups to help others. I can help in anyway I gladly would offer my help.”

The simple fact of the matter is that in many cases similar to the above the very organisations who could/should be helping to solve the highlighted issues rarely prove to be fit for purpose before or after the governments cuts. The Police work on a scaled target system and would be first in attendance if you lived in a mansion on Norwich’s Newmarket Road, but a council house
on the Heartsease? They may pop in several days later if you’re lucky, if at all.

Likewise the council, the social services…all appear to do more to hinder than help. Do we not pay our taxes? Are they not supposed to be working for US? Either they’ve forgotten who they serve or we’ve simply got it all wrong.

We are calling for a local debate. A debate for direction to set up local neighbourhood groups to tackle the repercussions of the cuts we now face and some of the more unsavoury issues the likes of the Police, the Council, political parties and the Womens Institute can’t handle! A debate in respect of forming a Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative which would be the first port of call to cover all situations in our communities from the basic checking in on the elderly in winter to turning out against bailiffs harassing members of the community, to the more difficult subjects such as violence on the streets outside our houses and so-called ‘antisocial behaviour’.

We would welcome input from all and will be organising local public meetings shortly and will post up the details in the next month. All we ask is that people leave their political parties at the door on the way in and come with an open mind and serious ideas and see if together we can’t create the communities we deserve as opposed to the ones our government suggests we live in. On a day when it emerges that the wealthiest boardroom directors are giving themselves 50% pay rises while we are close to destitute, it’s time we started finding inspiration from each other rather than populist celebrity.

We do not look to the past to some imaginary golden age when our communities were some how idyllic. We do however believe the future can be a lot brighter if we act together and finally wake up to the fact that the state and all it’s services are mostly not worth the price of a peak rate telephone call.

The Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative coming to your neighborhood soon.

#DaleFarm: a community with nowhere to go by Roxy Freeman

Guardian ‘comment is free’ article



On Tuesday night I fell asleep with a heavy heart after hearing the news that the clearance at Dale Farm  was likely to start the following morning. I hoped that, overnight, common sense would prevail and a forced eviction would not take place, but I awoke to the inevitable sight of riot police storming the camp  at dawn.

For the residents of Dale Farm, and Gypsies and Travellers all over the world, their worst nightmare was finally coming true. “They’re breaking the law,” I hear many of you cry, “It’s green belt land.” And you are right: it is an illegal camp, and if we want to live in a civilised society we must all uphold the law, no matter what background or culture we come from.

But the law is not black and white, and these people have certainly been let down by the system. Legal wrangling aside, the reality is that hundreds of human beings are about to be dragged from their homes and forced on to the roads.

My overriding emotions are sadness and confusion. I’m writing this from a caravan on my father’s land: it is parked here legally, but the memories of countless evictions from my childhood are etched in my mind. When I look up I expect to see the men in Day-Glo coats walking towards me and I’m filled with a sense of dread. I know how the Irish Travellers at Dale Farm feel as their life crumbles around them and they have nowhere to go. Hopeless is the only word that can describe it.

Most people in the UK don’t want them at Dale Farm or anywhere else in the country. Over 90% of those who responded to a recent poll believe a forced eviction is the right outcome. I won’t use many of the sensationalist terms being thrown around by some of the activists and Travellers involved in the eviction, and I don’t think this is a case of ethnic cleansing; but do I know first-hand how unaccepted the nomadic lifestyle is today. It doesn’t matter how quiet, clean or law-abiding you are, if you live in a caravan you are scum in the eyes of most of the British  population.

Gone are the days when the government actively tried to defuse the tension and hostility between settled and travelling people. Sites are not being created, and budgets given to councils to do so are being used for other “more pressing” issues. It is a case of: “Not on my patch.”

Basildon council leader Tony Ball pulled out of discussions with the Homes and Communities Agency – who offered land to rehouse the Dale Farm families within Essex and within a suitable distance to the children’s school. In my opinion that was because keeping them within his borough would lose votes, and votes seem to be more important than human welfare.

A peaceful solution was never going to be found because Ball apparently believes that Basildon already has more than its quota of Travellers. Swap the word Travellers with any other ethnic group and ask yourself if that is an acceptable position to take.

For the Dale Farm community the tragic reality remains: they have nowhere to go. As they exit the site they will be greeted by blocked-up tracks and barricaded lanes, parks with trenches dug around them, and car parks with a heavy security presence. They’ll end up in laybys, the children will have no chance of an education, and their quality of life will be appalling. But at least they won’t be in Basildon.

People all over the country cheer the enforcement officers on, relishing the scenes of distress and trauma. I ask: whatever happened to human compassion?

Dealing with bailiffs – a rough guide

There are unfortunately many sources of debts in which people are ripped off by interest rates, or persecuted for lack of cash. Many debt collection agencies and bailiffs work in tandem. Indeed, often they are just different branches of the same firm both use threatening letters to try to intimidate people.

Don’t panic

You don’t have to make it easy for them.   If in any doubt get advice. The debt collection agencies often threaten bailiff action. They can never use bailiffs without first taking you to court and obtaining a judgement on the debt. Even then, bailiffs are only used where you don’t keep to the terms of the judgement/repayment agreement. It’s easy to get this varied if your circumstances change, e.g. you lose your job or something.

If you decide you are able and willing to pay off a debt, you can go back to the original creditor. Paying through the bailiffs will cost you more. Only agree to amounts you can afford.

You don’t have to let them in

Bailiffs cannot break into your home to take away goods to recover the debt. They first need to have “walking possession” – either by you having let them in previously, or by having previously gained “peaceable entry”. But they can climb in through an open window. If you live in a flat in a converted house, you could have problems. The street door counts as the front door – so if a neighbour lets them through that threshold, it’s arguable they can then break down the door to your flat. This doesn’t apply in a block of flats with an entry-phone system.

Don’t be intimidated

They’ll lie and say they will attend with the police who can break down your door. Not true -the police may attend, but only to prevent a ‘breach of the peace’, I.e. any threat of illegal violence by either side. 3ut if you offer no violence, there’s nothing the police can do. If cops threaten to break your door down, ring their station and report them’.

You can’t be jailed

Bailiffs will say that if you don’t pay they’ll send the debt back with the recommendation that you be jailed. This is untrue for most debts.

It is only possible to get jailed for non-payment of Council Tax but then only if there’s an extra court case and the judge rules you are “wilfully” refusing to pay, and that there’s no other way of getting what you owe (like from your benefits or wages).

Don’t be fleeced

Many bailiffs will inflate their costs by sending extra letters or charging you for visits to remove property that never actually occurred. They’ll even charge more for these things than are allowed in law. Bailiffs are money-hungry parasites. All bailiffs (except court bailiffs) make their money by collecting a debt quickly. They get a portion of the total debt by way of payment from the council or credit card company. That is why they will demand a higher level of repayment than you can afford, the longer it takes to collect the debt the more it costs them.


  1. It’s usually best to avoid getting into debt if possible.
  2. Don’t be ashamed: being harassed over debts is not a private failing, but a public scandal affecting tens of millions of people.
  3. The above is only meant as a very rough guide. If you have problems visit your local CAB/advice centre or see a solicitor for free. Tel. CAB 0870 1264030 Law Centre 8808 5354