Friday 30 September 2016

Nationwide whistleblower couple fight to keep home

Claire McCormack

Published 19/04/2015 | 02:30

Brendan Beggan, Olivia Greene, Emily-Rose (2 1/2) and Ella (17 weeks) at their home in Scotstown Co.Monaghan. Picture by Philip Fitzpatrick.
Brendan Beggan, Olivia Greene, Emily-Rose (2 1/2) and Ella (17 weeks) at their home in Scotstown Co.Monaghan. Picture by Philip Fitzpatrick.

Ben Beggan and Olivia Greene are paying a high price for their brave efforts in lifting the lid on wrong-doing at the now defunct Irish Nationwide Building Society.

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Almost seven years after risking their jobs and reputations to publicly reveal unsavoury lending practices at the controversial lender, the couple now face the harrowing prospect of losing their family home.

Ben (53) and Olivia (39), who live in Co Monaghan, put their jobs, mortgage and livelihoods on the line to reveal the bank's bad practices in 2008 and 2009.

Olivia, a former loan supervisor at the bank, appeared on RTE's Prime Time in December 2009, and revealed thatsenior Fianna Fail politicians had received "fast-tracked loans" from Nationwide's controversial CEO Michael Fingleton.

The couple's brave whistleblowing efforts would ultimately cost them their livlihoods.

Now, as they struggle to meet their mortgage repayments, the couple say they face the harrowing prospect of losing their family home.

Ben says they are facing eviction after the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the institution that took over Nationwide and Anglo Irish Bank, sought a repossession order in Monaghan District Court last June.

On Friday the family were told by their solicitor to call the county register as they may face a potential eviction within "a short period of time".

Ben told the Sunday Independent: "I'm being asked to leave my house with my partner and two small children with no house to go to. The only thing you really have is your home and we're being told that we don't even have that anymore."

The couple's desire to reveal the truth has come at a very high cost for them and their two children - Emily Rose, aged two-and-a-half, and Ella, who is just three months old.

Ben also has three other children, Mark (28), Danielle (26) and Rory (22). Mark and Danielle have been forced to emigrate to find work.

"We have been struggling from the date I lost my job in Irish Nationwide. I haven't been working since and neither has Olivia. We can't get any work at all because of what has happened," said Ben, who added the couple's high profile may be one of reasons affecting their ability to find work.

"What price do we have to pay for telling people the truth? We told the truth and now we are facing eviction from our family home," said Ben, whose son Rory plays senior football with Monaghan.

Although Ben and Olivia have "no regrets" about spilling the beans on the bank, they said they feel they have been "abandoned by the Government" ever since.

"I'm very angry with the way things have progressed here in this country and the way this Government is shying away from it to rely on the banks to dictate everything and do nothing about it," said Ben.

Before the controversy with Irish Nationwide, Ben said he never had a problem paying his mortgage and always paid his bills on time.

"I never missed a payment in my life. If I could pay my mortgage I would, but I can't."

Ben said his young family are "barely surviving" on social welfare benefits. But despite the pressure and potential looming eviction day, Ben said he will fight any attempt to take his home.

"My kids know nothing else only this house and I am not leaving here because I have done nothing wrong."

Jerry Beades of the New Land League group said the scale of the bankruptcy and repossession problem and the consequences are being totally underestimated.

"I am just swamped with calls from people who are being evicted. There is just no joined-up thinking on the issue, there is no logic to any of it and the scale of the crisis is out of control," he told the Sunday Independent.

Sunday Independent

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