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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Woman (90) pursued by debt collectors for €14 council bin fine

Published 19/05/2014 | 16:09

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A 90-YEAR-OLD Dublin woman was aggressively pursued by a debt collection agency acting for Dublin City Council over a €14 bin fine.

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The woman – who is understood to be living alone – was threatened with legal action, the Stubbs Gazette and the Sheriff over the minor debt.

The elderly woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, lives in the north central area of Dublin City Council.

Her children brought the matter to the attention of councillor Damien O’Farrell and asked him to follow up with Dublin City Council. Councillor Farrell said the elderly woman was “aggressively pursued,” by a debt collection agency acting for the council. The €14 bin fine was incurred by the elderly woman when Dublin city’s waste was privatised.

The woman received two letters from the agency, one last January and then one last month.

In the letter, dated April 11, the agency outlined: “We act for Dublin City Council.”

It also stated that in the event that the woman did not pay the debt, the agency had “instructions to obtain judgment and once obtained, to publish same in the various trade gazettes, register same as a judgment mortgage, remit the judgment to the Sheriff for enforcement and to take whatever additional legal action is necessary to protect our client’s interests.”

Cllr O’Farrell said that he was taken aback by the content of the letters – particularly to an elderly woman.

“I find it frankly outrageous that DCC would stand over the treatment this 90-year-old lady living alone was subjected to. To be threatened with court, Stubbs Gazette, the Sheriff as well as the incurring of legal costs and interest for a €14 debt is absolutely scandalous,” said councillor Damian O’Farrell.

“It is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” he added.

The pensioner, who had a clean payment history, became very distressed when she received the second letter and informed her children of the issue.

“I find it disturbing that an elderly lady would be threatened on behalf of Dublin City Council for such a small debt,” Mr O’Farrell told City Manager Owen Keegan at last Monday’s council meeting.

“Her previous payment history and personal circumstances were not taken into account.”

The councillor invited Mr Keegan to comment on the issue.

In his response Mr Keegan outlined how the issue had occurred explaining that the woman had received four letters in total requesting payment. She had accrued the debt over three bins, two black bins, at €6 each and one brown bin at €2.

Mr Keegan said the debt was settled on April 17, 2014.

The councillor also asked the city manager to explain what he proposes to do “to ensure that this threatening practice for such small debts ceases with immediate effect.”

However, Mr Keegan did not respond to that part of the question.

The councillor said he did not wish to leave the matter at just that.

He is insisting that an apology be issued by Dublin City Council to the 90-year-old woman.

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