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Friday 21 July 2017

Families at risk of losing home to get free legal aid

About 43,000 owner-occupier mortgages here are in arrears of 90 days or more. Photo: PA
About 43,000 owner-occupier mortgages here are in arrears of 90 days or more. Photo: PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

A €15m Government-funded service to provide independent financial and legal advice for people at risk of losing their homes is being formally launched this morning.

The service - called Abhaile - has operated on a trial basis since earlier this year and the Government claims it is "proving very effective".

About 43,000 owner-occupier mortgages here are in arrears of 90 days or more.

The Abhaile service is being launched by Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, and Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, at Pearse Street library in Dublin.

The Government said that the "number one objective" is to allow people to remain in their home wherever possible.

Abhaile is part of a package of services being rolled out by the Government to honour commitments made under the Programme for Partnership Government. It will cost an estimated €15m over the next three years.

A Government source said during the summer that a voucher system will be used to give insolvent people access to the service. They'll be able to get free advice and assistance from panels of solicitors, personal insolvency practitioners, or accountants.

There will also be greater assistance and representation for insolvent borrowers in repossession proceedings involving their homes, via a panel of duty solicitors, operated by the Legal Aid Board.

MABs - the Money Advice and Budgeting Service - is acting as a gateway to the scheme.

The scheme is coordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Social Protection.

The other key Government agencies involved are the Legal Aid Board and the Insolvency Service of Ireland.

Irish Independent

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