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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Kenny ‘accused of washing hands’ by anti-eviction protestors

Around 100 protesters gathered outside the home of Martin and Claire O'Sullivan in Kanturk, Co Cork, to prevent a sheriff carrying out an eviction order
Around 100 protesters gathered outside the home of Martin and Claire O'Sullivan in Kanturk, Co Cork, to prevent a sheriff carrying out an eviction order
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

By Lyndsey Telford and Ed Carty

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of washing his hands of home repossessions as anti-eviction campaigners vow to stop a family being thrown out of their home.

Martin and Claire O'Sullivan, and their three children under the age of nine, have been warned that sub-prime lender Start Mortgage will take their house from them as they have defaulted on repayments over two years.

Mr O'Sullivan was not in court when a repossession order was granted but has offered to pay €400 a month off his borrowings, about half of what is due.

The row hit the political frontline as Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan revealed that in two-thirds of arrears cases which banks have sought to resolve, the only options being proposed are to throw back the keys or take the owners to court.

Scores of supporters, some linked to the anti-austerity Independent Resistance group, others backed by the the Anti-Eviction Taskforce and other concerned locals, gathered at the family home in Kanturk, Co Cork, for a second day and vowed to prevent the county sheriff enforcing a court order.

Fianna Fail Micheal Martin challenged the Taoiseach over the threatened eviction of a young family.

"It was stated that every effort and intervention would be made in order to prevent people from losing their family homes," he said.

Mr Martin called for the Taoiseach to appoint someone to intervene in the dispute and come up with a sustainable solution.

"I also request that all options be explored to prevent this couple and their three children from being evicted from their home," he said.

Mr Martin said the Taoiseach was "washing his hands of the issue and passing the buck to the judicial system to deal with at its discretion".

The opposition leader, a TD in Cork, said an eviction would ultimately cost the state either in rehousing the family or in rent supplements.

The Taoiseach said that the Government's position was that repossession of houses should be a very last resort.

"I feel for this man, his wife and their children," he said.

The threatened eviction was going on as governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan was to be questioned by the Oireachtas Finance Committee over the mortgage arrears crisis and how banks were tackling it.

The O'Sullivans remortgaged their family home in Ashdale, Dun an Oir, Kanturk, in 2009 after Martin's plumbing business lost money during the economic collapse.

They moved to Smart and borrowed an additional €30,000 to pay off business debts before slipping behind in repayments in 2010.

Mr Hononhan has confirmed 34,890 of the near 100,000 arrears cases have been offered some sort of action by the country's main banks - Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB.

In 57% of cases involving family homes and 74% of buy-to-let cases, banks are asking the mortgage holder to throw back the keys or threatened them with legal action.

Press Association

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