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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Bankrupt woman challenges elections ban

Tim Healy

Published 22/03/2014 | 02:30

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Jillian Godsil, who wants to run in the European elections. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Jillian Godsil, who wants to run in the European elections. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

A WOMAN has brought a legal challenge to laws preventing bankrupts contesting Dail and European elections.

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Jillian Godsil, whose house was repossessed last year and is a bankrupt herself, wants to run as a candidate with a debt-relief platform in the Ireland South constituency in the European elections, which includes her base at Coolroe, Tinahely, Co Wicklow.

She also intends to run as a local candidate to represent Baltinglass on Wicklow County Council and ultimately run for the Dail.

Because she filed for and was adjudicated bankrupt last month, she may only legally contest local but not Dail or European elections.

She is challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Electoral Act and the European Parliamentary Elections Act preventing bankrupts contesting those two elections.

She alleges the exclusion of bankrupts breaches the constitutional principle of equality and interferes with her right to a free choice as a voter.

CAMPAIGNED

Ms Godsil says she has campaigned on social and economic issues, particularly personal debt and insolvency, and wants to campaign for families and individuals "bearing the brunt of the financial crisis".

Richard Humphreys, with Dr Michael Forde, for Ms Godsil, told the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns the matter was urgent as the closing date for nominations for the elections is May 3.

Mr Justice Kearns listed the matter for Monday.

Ms Godsil, a divorced mother of two who describes herself as an Irish citizen, writer and undischarged bankrupt, says she had no other option but to file for bankruptcy last January because she had unsecured debts of some €1m, no life savings and is in receipt of social welfare payments with income of about €1,300 a month.

Before the financial crisis, she was a successful self-employed mother of two who had been financially independent since she was a student, she said.

Bank of Scotland last year repossessed her former family home, Raheengraney House in Co Wicklow, valued at €1.65m in 2007 and with a mortgage of €800,000. She claims the bank "inexplicably" refused an offer of €500,000 for that property.

She was unable to avail of the personal insolvency regime because her debt was too high and her income too low.

Irish Independent

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