Artist behind Garda evacuation picture thinks ‘people don’t get the point’ – The Irish Times

The visual artist behind the image, shared by Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin, which shows Gardaí overseeing an eviction, said “many people seem to miss the point”.

Mr Ó Broin shared an image on social media which reworked a painting by renowned Cork artist Daniel MacDonald (1821-1853) of an eviction during the Famine to instead show Gardaí helping to evict tenants from the home.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said “No words needed” and credited the visual artist behind it, Mála Spíosraí, aka Spicebag.

The artist, who is originally from Bray, Co Wicklow, completed the painting in March 2021 but recently reshared it when the Government decided not to extend the eviction ban that expired on Saturday.

“It was inspired by Frederick Street [eviction] where masked gardaí were involved in the eviction of people from a house in north Dublin,” Mála Spíosraí told the Irish Times on Sunday.

“It was just to highlight the intensity and cultural weight of an eviction in the Irish psyche.

“I think the government is just trying to play it off as a formal, legal process, while I think because of our history and our national psyche and our cultural consciousness, symbolically it means a lot more to people.

“I’ve decided to re-release it [the image] as prints to raise money for charity. I haven’t decided on a charity yet but I’m thinking of Focus Ireland or Threshold but I haven’t decided yet.”

He said the government’s decision not to extend the moratorium was “a pretty heartless and cold move…especially when we have a record number of homeless people and people in shelters.”

The visual artist, who promotes his work on Instagram at, said much of his art focuses on political satire and social commentary and “contains a lot of nostalgia”.

“A lot of people seem to miss the point [the image], I think,” he added. “People seem really excited about it, like it’s some kind of fantastic thing. The guards in the picture are from a picture of the eviction on Frederick Street, it’s not like a made up thing. I’ve just converted the property into an older property, people say ‘this is ridiculous’ but it’s a real thing.

“There are people who are quite mad about it, obviously it’s going to garner all sorts of political points, but I don’t really use Twitter so I don’t care. I’m just glad a lot of people are buying it and the money is being raised [for charity].”

On Saturday, Antoinette Cunningham, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi), described Mr Ó Broin’s tweet as “deeply offensive and totally inappropriate” from an elected official.

On Twitter, she commented that it was “insultingly wrong” to portray fellow Garda “like that”.

The role of Gardaí in the North Frederick Street eviction in September 2018 drew widespread criticism, as members of the force wearing balaclavas were pictured at police events. The following year, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said An Garda Síochána had learned lessons from a number of evictions and incidents of public disorder, and that Gardaí were now taking a more proactive approach to saying when and how a court order would be carried out. Artist behind Garda evacuation picture thinks ‘people don’t get the point’ – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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