- 04 Apr 23
Artist Mála Spíosarí (Adam Doyle) says "a lot of people seem to be missing the point."
After Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing, Eoin Ó Broin, stood by his tweet depicting Mála Spíosarí's reworked eviction painting, and a strange amount of uproar from Government officials, the artist has reiterated the meaning and inspiration behind the piece.
Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí (Adam Doyle, @spicebag.exe on Instagram) is currently raising money from purchases of the print, 100% of profits will go to a homeless charity of his choice at the end of April.
The picture shows a revamped edition of Daniel MacDonald's 1850s painting The Eviction, a Famine-era scene depicting a peasant family being removed from their cottage. The reworked piece superimposes masked gardaí and private security officers over the original's 19th century bailiffs. The contemporary images are taken from the Frederick Street evictions in 2018.
"No words needed," wrote Ó Broin in a caption over the image.
No words needed (credit Mála Spíosraí) pic.twitter.com/JK6NVcFNeU
— Eoin Ó Broin (@EOBroin) April 1, 2023
The painting was first created in 2021, but resurfaced recently, following the government's March decision to terminate the eviction ban, which Spíosraí called "a pretty heartless and cold move." The artist affirmed that the reworking was inspired by 2018's Frederick Street eviction, where gardaí in black balaclavas were seen removing activists from a house in north Dublin at rush hour.
"It was just to highlight the sort of intensity and cultural weight of an eviction in the Irish psyche," Spíosarí told The Irish Times. "The government just tries to play it off as a formal, legal proceeding whereas I think because of our history and national psyche and cultural consciousness, it symbolically means a lot more to people."
Spíosraí is referring to garda conduct in incidents like the Frederick St. eviction, which the force admittedly regrets. Their name badges and IDs were covered up at the eviction.
"People seem to be really wound up about it as if it’s like it’s some sort of fantastical thing," the artist professed. "The guards in the picture are from a picture from the Frederick Street eviction, it’s not like a made-up thing. I just changed the property to an older property, people are like ‘this is ridiculous’ but it’s a real thing."
A clip from last night's Virgin Media Ireland news panel went viral this morning after Doyle was being interrupted consistently by Irish Independent journalist Fionnan Sheahan.
"[If] you get upset about the fact that the Gardaí are in it - that might not be the correct emotional response to a bunch of people getting thrown out of their home"
- Visual Artist Adam Doyle, also known as Spicebag, on his eviction image retweeted by @EOBroin #TonightVMTV pic.twitter.com/fE9oaZ1eD4
— TonightVMTV (@TonightVMTV) April 3, 2023
Human rights concerns have become increasingly prevalent in garda civilian interactions in recent years, often attributed to gratuitous aggression on behalf of the force. A 2022 University of Limerick report found that one fifth of sex workers interviewed said they had been sexually exploited by the garda, with a participant in the study affirming that the group had “a deep mistrust” of the police organisation.
In December 2020, the Garda Armed Support Unit shot 27-year-old George Nkencho after he allegedly assaulted the manager of a Eurospar supermarket in Hartstown during a mental health crisis.
Nkencho's family continues to await the results of a formal investigation into the shooting. "We are looking for the highest level of accountability," George's sister, Gloria Nkencho, told the Sunday Independent. “A life was lost. There should have been another way for gardaí to take control of the situation, other than to end my brother’s life.”
Further– a series of controversial evictions in the late 2010's incited a November 2020 eviction policy assessment and update. The new document outlines how the garda should respond to eviction and repossession notices, requesting that the police force inform the local district officer or superintendent, who then has the responsibility of overseeing the police response.
What does she mean by saying 'the gardaí have to do their job'? Does she mean their job in relation to evictions? They have no formal role in relation to evictions, and their informal role has been raised as a problem by the policing authority 🤷♂️ https://t.co/jNVJIo0AjF https://t.co/nOAy0bDnSx
— Eoin Daly (@eoinmauricedaly) April 3, 2023
A case of illegal eviction made headlines today after news broke that Marc Godart, of Green Label Properties Investment Limited, evicted up to 45 people last August under the guise that he was selling the property. He instead turned the residence into a "hostel style" vacation rental, with private double rooms selling for €280 a night.
Spíosarí believes that government leaders misunderstood the point of the piece, fixating on Ó Broin's Tweet as opposed to the evictions themselves. "A lot of people seem to be missing the point of it [the image], I think," he remarked.
Nearly 5,000 eviction notices were issued by landlords in the three months that proceeded the October eviction ban. Now– many are once again facing homelessness, while emergency housing exceeds capacity.
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- 05 Apr 23