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'It could be years before we get back on our feet'

Like many people, Tony and Siobhan have been forced to turn to their parents for financial support in an attempt to extract themselves from a borrowing binge during the boom.

The couple, who live in Longford, owe €40,000 in short-term, unsecured debts, such as credit card bills and car loans. And that is before any account is taken of the mortgage and other secured debts.

But their problems stem mainly from property. During the boom they bought big when purchasing their domestic residence and then ended up remortgaging to buy a holiday home in Spain. They also have an investment property.

They are only managing to pay the interest on these mortgages.

The couple are in their 30s with three young children. (We have changed their names.)

A former sub-contractor working on housing developments during the boom, Tony is now on the dole. But he admits he now gets occasional work as a plumber.

"Our standard of living has crashed. Now we are living on a fraction of what we used to earn and having to seek help from Siobhan's parents, who are fairly well-off," Tony says.

He admits that it is embarrassing and awkward to be getting money from his parents-in-law, but feels he has few other options. Siobhan's parents are prepared to help as they do not want their grandchildren to suffer during the recession.

"It's not ideal that we are living on handouts but hopefully it won't be for much longer."

Tony and Siobhan have every intention of repaying the money.

"We take responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in but we just wish others, such as bankers and the politicians, were also seen to suffer.

"After all, we feel we and others were encouraged to over-borrow. And now it could be years before we get back on our feet," a frustrated Tony said.

Irish Independent