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Widower tells of how his family might lose home after falling into arrears following wife's death


Danny O'Connor and his children, Scott (10), Stacey (8), and Sophie (15) Credit: Save Save The O'Connor Family Home

A father-of-three broke down in tears on radio earlier today as he described the fight to keep the family home after an insurer refused to honour his wife’s life insurance.

Danny O’Connor (40), whose wife Ashling (32) died seven years ago, said he had no idea what would happen now after he was served notice by his mortgage provider that the family's home would be repossessed this November. Danny and his late wife took out a mortgage to help buy the house for €420,000 when they purchased it in 2008.

Mrs O'Connor is believed to have died from Lupus - but her husband said today she was "unaware" of her condition right up until her death.

"I’ve been talking to local TDs and the [South Dublin County] Council and I still don’t know what will happened. I just don't know what to do.

"It's been very hard for our three children because they're older now and understand what’s happening.

“They never got to say goodbye to their mother, and now, with everything going on with the mortgage, it's all starting to become too much," the emotional father said at the end of the interview on Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show.

Mr O'Connor said insurers Irish Life had refused to honour his wife’s life insurance after her death in 2008, leading him to fall into arrears with Stepstone mortgages.

“They refused to pay out because my wife had been admitted to A&E two years before we bought our house. They claimed we did not disclose the full details of her illness,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.

“On the application form, it asked if she had ever been sent to a hospital in the past five years and she hadn't... the only time she was at A&E during this time was when she was having a baby.

“It had nothing to do with what she died from.”

Speaking on Newstalk radio, Mr O’Connor said his wife’s consultant had told Irish Life that “at no time” before she became ill in 2008 had she been aware of her illness.

“My wife was taken to the ICU in Tallaght Hospital, and I was told after a few days she had mild case of lupus. She never came home.

“When I visited, I was told she had picked up pneumonia in the lungs or something, the doctors weren’t really sure.

"Her lungs got worse though and she collapsed and died November 2008.

“It took Irish Life eight months to tell me they wouldn’t be paying out. They had given me a few calls over this time and I thought finally they were ringing me to settle it.

“But they asked me if my wife had ever seen a specialist, and I said ‘no, only that one time when she was in accident and emergency’ but then they came back and said they weren’t paying because of this visit two years previously.

“We’d never missed a payment up [on our mortgage] until then because money was never a problem," he said.

Stepstone mortgages declined to comment on the case, saying that "with respect to client confidentiality, we have a policy of not discussing individual cases".

In a statement, Irish Life told Independent.ie: "For customer privacy reasons Irish Life does not comment on individual claims. While we might wish to make a general comment on this occasion, we have been advised not to do so by our legal advisers due to ongoing legal proceedings initiated by Mr O'Connor."