Debt crisis
hitting hard: more cases in our courts

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

ONE Limerick builder is grappling with debts of over €1.4m and is unable to pay an outstanding bill of €15,000 to a supplier.

ONE Limerick builder is grappling with debts of over €1.4m and is unable to pay an outstanding bill of €15,000 to a supplier.

And a bar-manager, with multiple bank loans, admitted in a county court he was unable to make payments on a €64,000 credit union loan. These were two of the more dramatic debt cases which came before Judge Mary O’Halloran in Newcastle West recently.

The scale of debts revealed in these two cases, coupled with the fact that judgements were sought in at least ten other cases, spell out the reality of what people know anecdotally: that debt is a big and growing monster that threatens to swallow up individuals, families and businesses.

In the Circuit Court in Limerick this week.

When the West Limerick builder appeared in Newcastle West court last week, he said his company had ceased trading early in 2008. His premises and some equipment had been repossessed. He now tries to survive on some occasional building work, paid for on a day rate. His average weekly income, he told the judge was €200. All his loans and debts, totalling €1.4m, including the €15,000 bill for equipment which was before the court, had been incurred by his company, he said, but were “personally guaranteed”.

“I just don’t have it,” he told the supplier’s solicitor Barry Murphy. “I am hoping for a change.” He had offered to return some unused equipment to the supplier in part payment, the court heard but this was refused on the grounds that the equipment, supplied four years ago, could no longer be used.

He also offered to work for the creditor’s son who was building a house but this offer was also declined because a contract with a builder had already been agreed.

“It is not an unwillingness to pay,” the man’s solicitor Pat Barriscale insisted, in reply to the supplier’s solicitor who contended the builder was in a position to pay monies.

Having heard the case, Judge O’Halloran ordered him to pay €5 a week.