Tragically, We Can't All Ditch Debts in the UK

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronan O'Reilly

THIS is the story of two men. In quite different circumstances, each found himself struggling under the burden of massive debt. The outcome in their respective cases was also very different.

Today, one of them - former government minister Ivan Yates - will be interviewed on Pat Kenny's first Newstalk show, before going on to resume his own broadcasting career. The other, former Priory Hall resident Fiachra Daly, is dead.

Neither of them set out to end up owing vast sums of money. After leaving politics, Mr Yates concentrated on the family bookies' business and his burgeoning profile on radio. When his Celtic Bookmakers chain went into receivership at the start of 2011, he had this to say: 'I take full responsibility for this commercial disaster... I gave up politics to drive this ambition to create a national brand and family business and it has ended in tears.' By its very nature, the betting game is an unpredictable one. The only sure thing is that it was always going to be among the businesses hardest hit in the recession.

For his part, though, Fiachra Daly presumably reckoned he was getting involved in a far less risky enterprise. By buying a home in which to live and raise his family, he was only doing what practically everyone aspires to.

Nor was he reckless or extravagant; the ridiculous property prices of the time forced him to take out a sizeable mortgage, but it was only for a twobedroomed apartment. Through a combination of rogue developer Tom McFeely's disgracefully shoddy standards, lax planning regulations and an utterly shameful inertia on the Government's part, Mr Daly and his young family spent almost two years living in rented lodgings.

His partner, Stephanie Meehan, and their two small children are still in temporary accommodation, as are the other 250 Priory Hall homeowners.

But Mr Daly took his own life after the banks started demanding arrears on a home that wasn't fit for human habitation.

Meanwhile, Mr Yates has previously spoken about how he was also harassed by financial institutions. He claimed that AIB officials chased him for [euro]3.69million they said he owed out of a 'sense of vindictiveness and a desire to make an example out of me as a high-profile individual'.

Two men with money problems, two men with the banks breathing down the back of their necks. But there the similarity ends, and the contrast between their respective experiences puts the sheer inequity of our bankruptcy laws into sharp focus.

MR Yates moved to Wales in April 2012 and, after making a personal insolvency application in court there last summer, is now out of bankruptcy. …