The clearance of Dale Farm travellers site began at 7am on 19 October after one of the most protracted legal battles of the year. Police and bailiffs were met by resistance from gypsies, travellers and protesters as they attempted to evict unauthorised settlers from the site. Long-standing Dale Farm resident Kathleen Maloney, 36, was there until the bitter end. She tells her side of the story.
I've been through more evictions than I've had hot dinners, but when we bought Dale Farm ten years ago I thought we'd finally found a place of our own.
On the morning of the eviction I was waiting up by the main entrance of the camp. It was where we expected the police and the bailiffs to come in, so we had that well protected. We even had protesters chained up.
We knew it was going to be one of those evictions where we were trying to hold them off for long as we could. Even if we got just an extra couple of days, we could get somewhere stable to stay after.
Everyone was prepared for them to come in through the front entrance. But I heard a woman screaming and she was saying: “There's riot police coming through the back!”. But I said: “No they're not. They're here outside the gate,” I could see them.
Sadly, it turned out she was right. They were coming through the back entrance. There was a lot of screaming. It was a terrible shock and people were running to get their children.
Usually the bailiffs come in first, and then the police come too, to offer them and the residents protection. They say: “You're going”, we say “No, we're not”… that's the way it usually is.
But this was quite different. When there were riots in London and there was proper violence, they didn't use any taser guns. But, yet, here they used them in front of us.
None of the travellers got hit by them, but watching the protesters getting shocked is an experience I'll never forget. The children are still traumatised by it.
There were lots protesters that came and showed us their support. The reason they came was because we invited them. These people knew what the council was doing was wrong and they supported us. This was a scrapyard and we bought it as a scrapyard. There were still going to be gypsies and travellers there anyway, so what was the point of moving us on to another unauthorised place?
It was a horrible eviction and it solved nothing. It just makes people's lives a misery. All the community is split up, there are still legal battles going on, but everyone is just trying to find a place to live.
Life is just not going to be the same for us. I was at the site for ten years. It was our home. We got to know people there and we had a settled life. We had water, we had toilets, we had all things that you won't have on the side of the road - kids going to school, old people getting medical treatment…
I couldn't see any problem in what were doing. We never had any rows or arguments or anything like that. We all just got on quite well together. The town was beautiful. I made some very good friends - when you're ten years in a place, you're going to make friends. I really thought, with the evidence we brought forward and the case we had, they would have found us somewhere else to go before they evicted us.
We've been fighting for a decade. In the past I was moved every two weeks when I was on the side of the road. The number of times I've been evicted is just uncountable. But that was the worst. I just pray and hope I won't have to go through it again, or see anyone else going through it.
Kathleen Maloney was talking to Anthony Pearce. First published here.