'We'll be paying for a family home – but with no family'
MYLES and Mary Tobin fear they will be "left paying property tax on a family home – with no family".
They live in a three-bedroom detached home in a picturesque seaside village where any available property was snapped up during the boom.
Property prices haven't really seen huge fluctuations in Fenit, Co Kerry, where they live with their three children – Michael (13) and twins Peter and Grace (11) – mainly because there is only so much available in a small village.
Self-employed plumber Myles and housewife Mary built the house in 2002, getting what they felt at the time was a reasonable mortgage based on Myles's earnings.
Their house is now valued at around €275,000, which means they face a property tax of €495.
The couple have not paid the household charge and say there's no way they'll be able to stretch to €495 next year.
The Tobins have no provision made for their retirement, and in January, when their VHI health insurance is up for renewal, they say they just can't afford it anymore.
Mary, who is a trained secretary, says it would not be worth working and paying someone to mind her children.
They say they feel "frustrated" and "angry" but sometimes alone in a country that has become "docile".
"I'm from Fenit, have lived here all my life and have no intention of ever moving, so it's irrelevant what my home is worth," Mary told the Irish Independent.
"I would have considered us to have been coping during the boom but now we can't cope anymore and there's no glimmer of hope," Myles added.
The couple run a small plumbing business, mainly small, one-off jobs but like any business, their biggest problem is getting paid.
And while they're waiting for payment, they're getting deeper into the overdraft just to keep the business afloat.
They've only been on a foreign holiday once and in September spent €1,000 kitting out their three children in uniforms and schoolbooks.
"We never lived beyond our means to begin with, so there isn't really anything we can cut back on, and there were no luxuries anyway even during the so-called good times," Mary added.
"Now because of this sovereign debt we feel we're in shackles and it's just getting heavier. I have no doubt that my children will have to leave, and then we'll be left paying property tax on a family home – with no family."
Irish Independent Supplement