independent

Monday 21 April 2014

'NY Times was wrong: I don't have to hunt pigeons to survive'

John Donovan on Dun Laoghaire pier last night.
Pic Steve Humphreys
12th December 2013.
John Donovan on Dun Laoghaire pier last night. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A FORMER company director profiled in an article in one of the world's most prestigious newspapers about how he shoots and eats wild pigeons said he catches his own food in order to cut his living expenses.

However, 56-year-old John Donovan, from Shankill in South Dublin, says the story "sensationalised" his hardship and that his story of boom and bust mirrors the country's fortunes over the past few years.

Yesterday, the Central Bank moved to contact 'The New York Times' after it mistakenly reported that two-thirds of borrowers in Ireland had not paid their mortgage in two years in a front-page piece called, 'Hardships Linger for a Mending Ireland'.

The international edition of the paper issued a correction after the Central Bank contacted the paper to point out the error in the story.

The story, by reporter Liz Alderman, quickly went viral, with John stating he simply put his "hunting skills to practice" in an effort to cut down on costs.

"My struggle started in September 2008 almost on the very day of the bank guarantee when I was made redundant. Then I got into business with the assistance of two friends," John told the Irish Independent.

"We ran out of money. We couldn't get paid.

"The economy was on the floor and was still falling and we just had to stop in the midst of the horrible winter in 2010."

Faced with an expensive separation and medical costs for his ill mother, who has since passed away, he sold his five-bedroom house.

"I decided I was going to cut the bills to nothing. I thought, 'I'm going to fend for myself'. I have a fully licensed shotgun. I'm an experienced hunter so I started shooting a few pigeons in the fields around Shankill, so that's where that came from.

"I fish as well so I catch trout and caught loads of mackerel so I filleted and froze them," he said.

John has since secured work in the hardware area and says he is happy to have turned the corner, in much the same way the country has.

Online readers reacted to the article with more than 100 comments posted -- both agreeing and arguing against the main thrust of the piece.

The correct figures show that 18.5pc of home loans are in arrears, and a sub set has been in arrears for over two years.

By Sam Griffin, Donal O'Donovan and Charlie Weston

Irish Independent

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