Wednesday 25 April 2018

Insolvency rules are a bankers' charter that will send those clinging to life into jaws of despair

These insolvency guidelines have come as a bolt from the blue and confirmed my worst fears that this would become a bankers' charter.

These insolvency guidelines have come as a bolt from the blue and confirmed my worst fears that this would become a bankers' charter.

Unfortunately the guidelines seem to have taken everything into account, except people, families and children.

This latest piece of policy is predicated on raw economics, there is no human element to a series of guidelines which tell people they can live on the bare minimum, and they must give up almost everything so that the banks can have their pound of flesh.

This is a blueprint for eviction and emigration that will possibly drive people who are clinging on for dear life to finally enter the jaws of despair.

People I meet on a daily basis since the Government was formed have already cut back to the bone. Expensive jewellry, Sky Sports and private health insurance have been abandoned a long time ago.

The people I know were never the Flash Harrys who lost the run of themselves in the boom.

They are decent, hard- working people and even where two of them are still working they are still barely hanging on. This winter they weren't able to fill their oil tanks or their children's prescriptions because there just wasn't enough left after paying for the basics.

I don't know where they are expected to turn. I thought that these guidelines were being drawn up to give those who cannot pay their mortgages some protections. I believed that the guidelines would offer them realistic protection and that when the economy returns to growth they would be able to begin re-paying their mortgages and debts.

But what we are seeing only pays lip service to the notion of family, children, and living a normal life. These guidelines run contrary to all those values.

How this has got through a Cabinet, much less a Cabinet with Labour ministers, is beyond me.

It will not only be the final nail in the coffin of so many people's lives and hopes and aspirations, but it will also be a final nail for the Labour Party. These measures demonstrate that the despairing cries of many people have clearly fallen on deaf ears.

We have lost our way as a party and lost our support in last week's by-election. People feel we have abandoned them as we abandoned the disabled and the carers and low-income families dependent on child benefit.

I would have thought we had seen the last of that kind of callous policy, where everything is factored into the maths except people, with no regard paid to the lives of families at the end of their tether.

It is high time and past it for senior Labour people, long serving and experienced, to stand up and be counted. We promised and pledged to protect the most vulnerable and to be fair. I can't see how we can stand over this.

Anyone who knows anything about what is going on in this country knows that many of the terrible tragedies going on around country have a direct link to the austerity measures that have been imposed on them.

Banks who indulged in reckless lending have been rescued and are still paying scandalous levels of executive pay. But for ordinary people this is not about 'lifestyle' it is about any sort of life at all.

We have promised to listen to the people, clearly we have not. We have learned nothing from the last two years in government.

These guidelines leave no way back for many people caught in the terrible vice of insolvency.

I would say if Labour do not stand up and have these measures halted there will be no way back for us either.

John Whelan is a senator for the Labour Party

Irish Independent

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