Credit Union Debtors Caught in Arrears Trap; Ban on Members Using Savings to Clear Accounts
Byline: Neil Michael Chief Reporter
CREDIT union members under financial pressure are not being allowed to clear debts with their savings, a campaigning lawyer complained last night.
Instead, lenders are taking legal action against members, leaving hard-pressed families with even more costs to pay.
Now lawyer Colin Daly has asked the Financial Regulator to investigate the credit unions.
Mr Day is the public interest lawyer who, in a landmark case, successfully challenged an imprisonment order for single mother-oftwo Caroline McCann over her failure to pay off an [euro]18,000 loan from Monaghan Credit Union.
Mr Daly wants the regulator to look into the way credit unions can take legal fees from members' accounts.
However, those in financial trouble cannot use savings to clear arrears. The Irish Daily Mail has also learned that court action is even being taken against members who already have a working agreement in place to pay off arrears.
Mr Daly said last night: 'I am going to ask the Financial Regulator to investigate why someone can't discharge their arrears with savings they have with a credit union.' He added: 'The policy of proceeding to judgment against people who have working agreements in place to deal with their arrears is a terrible waste of members' money.
'This is especially the case where there is little possibility of the judgment being enforced.' An imprisonment order against his client Miss McCann was ruled invalid in June 2009.
The Monaghan woman, who had failed to pay [euro]6,000 on an [euro]18,000 loan, had been sentenced to a month in jail. But her subsequent High Court success effectively means that people who can't pay their debts will no longer be jailed. …