Group casts off arrears stigma

BEING in arrears on your mortgage has become one of the newer social stigmas in Ireland.

However, one Kerry woman is encouraging struggling homeowners across the country to come out from the shadows and take a stand.

Eleanor Doyle and her partner John Tangney from Kilcummin, outside Killarney, have two children and are six months in arrears on the mortgage.

However, when they were recently refused a mortgage break by their lender, Eleanor decided it was time for her to rally people to make a stand.

“Essentially, my partner had set up a business so we rang our lender looking for a mortgage break while he was setting up the business. We were refused. They are now ringing us wondering why we are in arrears. Everywhere we go for assistance, we are told that it’s not their problem.

“So we were sitting here one day deciding what we would have to do, like putting the house up for sale, as we are negative equity, when I just decided I was going to fight for my home.”

Eleanor contacted her local Labour senator, Marie Maloney, and the pair are now planning a “Creating a Voice” public meeting in Kerry to call on the Government to listen to the voices of homeowners who need help.

“I just think the Government have let people down on this issue,” Eleanor says.

“They can afford to bail out the banks to the tune of billions but they are forgetting the ordinary people on the ground.

“I just think that a lot of people are afraid or ashamed to come out and say they are in arrears. There is a stigma attached to it but if you sit here and say nothing then nothing will be done.”

Eleanor hopes the first meeting will be the catalyst for a grassroots movement that can spread across the country.

“We have received great feedback to date,” she says.

“I’ve had support from neighbours and friends, and people are emailing me about the meeting. I just hope we can rally people here in Kerry first to make their voice heard. Hopefully, it will encourage people to do the same in other counties and if that happens, absolutely, I’ll attend those meetings too.”

A qualified SNA, the Kerry native feels people in arrears should not be embarrassed about their position but should shift that shame onto their elected leaders.

“I paid to upskill and educate myself to be an SNA, like the Government encouraged people to do, and now I’m sitting here unemployed trying to hold onto my home. It’s not us that should be embarrassed — it’s the Government that should be.”

Those interested in attending the public meeting, the date of which will be announced in the coming days, can contact Eleanor at edcreatingavoice@gmail.com

Picture: Eleanor Doyle looks over financial statements at home in Killarney, Co Kerry. Picture: Eamonn Keogh

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