Cash-strapped farmers and contractors unable to meet repayments on loans are at the mercy of opportunist debt collectors who force their way onto private property to reclaim machinery.
The situation has been highlighted by Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae who said “certain individuals” are entering yards in the middle of the night and breaking locks to remove machinery.
“They are behaving like thieves,” he said. “This issue has to be highlighted. Just because an individual owes an institution money, it does not mean that institution has the right to treat him or her like a criminal.
“It is not a criminal offence to have tried to better oneself, whether through purchasing a house, an apartment, farm machinery or machinery for hire,” the Independent TD added.
Mr Healy-Rae said bank managers and employees must realise those who owe money must be treated with respect and consideration.
“They have families and are trying every day to survive. People in debt get depressed and down and feel the whole world is closing in on them when the threatening letters arrive from the banks.
“It is no wonder the incidence of suicide is on the increase. Families are being put to the pin of their collars.”
Mr Healy-Rae said as soon as it gets dark every evening, there are houses in which people cannot turn on the lights because they have no electricity.
“In others, home heating oil tanks are empty. These are the conditions in which people are living in the Ireland of 2012,” he said.
The Kerry TD slated those responsible for “harassing and haranguing people” who had been encouraged to take out huge mortgages and accrue massive debts.
“Those who gave the money in the first instance also have to be willing and flexible enough to ensure different programmes are put in place and proper advice is given,” he said.
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