Jim says I need a new house

Since hearing Jim Stafford’s words of wisdom on Mary Wilson’s Drive Time (Sept 9) concerning personal insolvency criteria, I have been suffering a professional and perhaps existential crisis.

Jim said: “In practice, the PIP (Personal Insolvency Practitioner) will also have to assess the type of house that might be needed for a professional person such as a solicitor, accountant or a hospital consultant as opposed to a house that’s needed by someone who is in the PAYE sector for example, so that, as a PIP, I would be making a very strong case, for example, that a solicitor should have a bigger house that accords with his professional status in society so that his neighbours and clients can see that, yes, this person is a good solicitor who is living in a good house” etc.

My problem is that I live in a relatively modest (well by Jim’s standards, it is terribly modest) non trophy semi-detached house with a small garden. Some of my neighbours are even PAYE workers, all decent hard working people. Jim is a clever man, he must be, he knows how the professional classes (whatever the hell that means) should live, how they think and what their clients expect. So in the interests of protecting my clients from being represented by an inadequate semi-detached dweller, I propose to go to my bank and ask them for a few million euro to buy a trophy house. Never mind that I can’t ever repay them. For years I laboured under the misapprehension that I should live within my means and buy a house I could actually afford. Silly me. Even sillier is that I have never once mentioned to a client where I live, nor was I ever asked. Clearly for Jim size does matter and his house is probably bigger than mine, as are those of his clients.

I resent his comments because they cast a slur on decent hardworking people, be they PAYE, self-employed, unemployed or members of the “professional class” who do their level best to pay their debts and cut their cloth according to their means. They also ascribe a toxic set of values, along with a nauseating sense of entitlement, to professionals, which most do not hold.

I know plenty of professionals who are bloody grateful to a spouse working in the PAYE sector that he so contemptuously dismisses. I read his apology on his website, for what it was worth. Unfortunately, the horse has bolted and we all now know what he (and apparently his clients) think of the “little people”.

I believe there are some modest properties going cheap in Dublin 4, in which I am prepared to slum it on behalf of my clients’ expectations and in trust for people of Ireland. After all, I need a trophy house, because Jim says so.

Maurice Dockrell, BL


Co Dublin

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