PEOPLE applying for debt write-offs under new personal insolvency legislation may be able to keep their wedding rings -- provided they are not "€300,000 diamond bazookas", Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed yesterday.
Under the proposals, those with serious debt troubles will have to prove their assets are under €400 in order to qualify for a write-off of up to €20,000.
However, the assets would exclude household appliances, tools, a car valued at €1,200 or less and other essential items.
At the Oireachtas Justice Committee yesterday, Fianna Fail spokesman Niall Collins tabled an amendment that would allow people keep "one item of jewellery of ceremonial significance" when their assets were being measured.
But Mr Shatter said he could not accept the amendment because it could include expensive items. He said he would "need convincing" that high-value items should be kept when someone is applying for bankruptcy.
But he added: "If someone has a modest wedding ring or engagement ring valued at a couple of hundred euros, no one wants that individual to be put in a position where they may be deprived of that."
He said some "lucky recipients" of expensive engagement rings had paraded their jewels to newspapers during the boom, and added: "Some of these people have left this country because of the debts they have left behind them.
"One individual's €100 ring that has ceremonial significance might be another individual's €200,000 or €300,000 diamond bazooka that they regard as having a great deal more ceremony than the €100 ring.
"They're looking for a debt relief notice but they want to hold on to the ring worth €300,000 or €400,000. Now let's get real about what we're talking about here."
Mr Collins said many "ordinary, decent people out there had low-value engagement and wedding rings and they should be provided for.
The Limerick TD withdrew his amendment because it placed no ceiling on the value of the jewellery, but said he may return to the matter.