TV3's 'Evicted at Christmas' - Dublin midwife reveals she contemplated suicide as she faced repossession order
A Dublin midwife has revealed she contemplated suicide after facing a repossession order on her home.
Ciara O'Reilly (46) from Dublin faced the order after her court case was heard in her absence in November and she could potentially lose her home in January.
Ciara took sole responsibility for the mortgage following her marriage split and since 2007 she has worked with the bank to try to reach a solution on the repayments.
However, the bank is now pursing Ciara for full repossession of her home and she has been served with an eviction notice.
It has had a massive impact on her wellbeing.
“I’m quite a robust person," she says. "I found myself in a situation where my mind was actually starting to formulate plans about taking my own life... and just be done with this pain’.
"At the same time my rational mind is going; you have a son, you have responsibilities, you have to keep going."
Ciara's heartbreaking story is just one of three highlighted in TV3 programme, Evicted at Christmas, which airs Monday December 31 at 9pm.
An estimated 100,000 residentail homes are in mortgage arrears in Ireland with 17,000 of those homes now being pursued for repossession in the courts.
Ciara feels she's just one of hundreds of people feeling the same way.
“This [crisis] is happening in so many homes across the country," she says.
"People are not sleeping at night. People are highly distressed. Marriages are breaking down and people are in financial dire straits with no recourse. No real recourse. We don’t know what’s going on in people’s homes.
"People tend not to talk about the situation because they feel shame about it. I feel shame about it. I had to tell my son last night [he’s away in college] that an eviction order has landed in the post and I feel ashamed that I’ve let him down and the expression on his face really hurt me, to see my son try to hide that from me, to protect me, just makes my heart break.
“He told me that I taught him not to worry about these things so I’m not to worry about it, but I’m still his mother so I’m going to worry."
She adds, “Life is fleeting. Because I came close enough to taking my own life in my darkest moments, life, I’ve learned, is not always supposed to be good and I can’t be buffeted around by every breeze that hits me, even though it’s a big storm that’s hitting me, I’ve learned that I can cope with these things.”
Jillian (not her real name) from Cork is in a similar situation. She's separated from her husband and has children, who she has not told about the threat of homelessness looming over them.
“My health is suffering. I feel so sick all the time. I’m constantly worried. I don’t sleep, my head never stops. I don’t have a life. I don’t really live, I exist basically," she says.
Jillian is also battling cancer, something which she says came second to paying her mortgage on her list of priorities.
“Basically I feel like my body is disintegrating," she says. "I was diagnosed with cancer and I said to the doctor ‘I actually don’t have time for this’, and I didn’t. My cancer was less of a priority than my mortgage.”
It's not just homeowners who are facing difficulties. Julie Brennan (32) from Laois and her husband David thought they were a long-term lease until a receiver told them they needed to vacate the property.
With rent prices increasing by 50 per cent locally they cannot afford rents being charged by private landlords. They are also not eligible for rent allowance - David would have to give up his job or surrender their family income support.
“The not knowing when is the day going to come, when is the sheriff going to come to my door, when is the letter going to come in my door," says Julie.
"So, I either want a new termination to quit my tenancy and proceed in whatever way it has to go, or else I want a new contract for my family.”
To help combat the homelessness crisis, TV3 and Focus Ireland have launched the #H4H (Hand4Homelessness) campaign, to raise awareness and some much needed funds for people who find themselves homeless in Ireland.
For more information on how you can take part simply log onto www.TV3.ie/hand4homelessness
Anyone affected by the above article can contact: The Samaritans on 116 123