A Ballyshannon Town Councillor described how “money lenders were rampant in the town” and how they were striking fear into vulnerable people in need in the town.
This paper reported on this issue in a front page special many months ago.
At the monthly meeting of Ballyshannon Town Council, Ms. Mary Daly, Town Clerk had been outlining the initiatives of the Meitheal Report which operates under the “Backing Ballyshannon” initiative.
One of the initiatives includes dealing with the “new poor” who find themselves under pressure in the present recessionary climate.
Ms. Daly said, “These are people who never would have been in this position before and are now being targeted by ‘doorstep creditors and moneylenders’
“Through Meitheal we have arranged various agencies to assist in putting an end to this practice including MABS, the Credit Union and the Citizen’s Information Centre”
Cllr. Phonsie Travers said, “I have personally seen how these people work - it is sheer intimidation. They arrive at a house, thump the door and if there is no answer, bang the windows until they gain access.
“If the unfortunate residents do not have the money, they just seize property. I personally know of instances of televisions, chainsaws and videos been lifted.
“These people are not welcome in this town and something has to be done - they are no different than drug dealers, they are worse. The people who initially borrowed owe more today as a result - vulnerable families are trapped and caught in a vicious circle.
“To get out of their present debt they are simply borrowing more.”
Cllr. Travers added that these people were from our own county and were dwelling on the vulnerability of people using threats, harassment and intimidation,
Cllr. Travers continued, “This is affecting all strata of society - there is a demand for credit out there. People have communions, confirmations, car tax, insurance - all the normal household costs to pay but they simply do not have the money. Their prime concern is to pay the rent or the mortgage and keep a roof over their family’s heads.
“The banks are not lending and they feel that there is nowhere else to go. I would urge people who may find themselves in financial need to go to the likes of MABS or the other approved agencies and to avoid these ‘thugs’ at all costs.”
Ms. Daly said, “Meitheal will assist people in difficulty with a loan service - our aim is to stop this ‘door step credit’ It can become a never ending cycle.
“I am appealing to the media to highlight this situation to the general public - there is help and advice available from many of the recognised institutions which include MABS, the Credit Unions, Citizens Information Centre.”
Cllr. Travers concluded, “Part of the problem is that it is not illegal to lend money but the intimidation and seizure of goods which would most likely involve trespass is against the law and people should immediately contact the Gardai.”