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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 24 October, 2014

Column: The pain of debt is not quick – it is a ceiling that lowers inch by crucifying inch

What is debt, and why do we all buy into this debt culture? Jillian Godsil discusses her own financial problems and the unsustainable status quo of modern Ireland.

Jillian Godsil

THIS WEEK, the first case of personal insolvency went through in a court in Monaghan. The man’s name in question was not released but he achieved a write down of some 70 percent of his debts.

However, in time, this same man will be named and shamed on a public register for all to view, not just in a private credit rating as previously. Naturally, his case raised a huge amount of interest with some sides welcoming the new laws, and others stating that he borrowed the money and he should go down with the debt. A few enlightened souls suggested that this business man would now be able to start again and provide future employment, which is better than having him stagnate.

However, what is missing from this picture are the vast numbers of people, myself included, who are too broke to even enter the Insolvency Service. The business man at the centre of the first case must have been earning enough still to be in a position to offer his creditors some return, otherwise they would not done a deal, even at such a large write-down.

There are many people who simply do not have enough money to be able to offer anything above their income. In fact, they are living below government guidelines of what expenses they should be given.

I, along with many others, am living below the poverty line

It was a bit of a shock to discover that I, along with many other people, am living below the poverty line. But, then, why am I surprised? I have fuel courtesy of a charitable donation – otherwise the children and I would wear not just extra jumpers but duvets while watching TV; we do not eat out, we shop once a month in the discount grocery stores; we do not go on holidays, and there had better not be a need for extra money on Monday as I just don’t have it.

Debt does not come like a sword slashing in the night: it is a ceiling that lowers inch by crucifying inch. Parents and adults try and shoulder the ceiling but it is stronger than them. Sadly, suicide has been seen as the only way out by some – and, of course, we all know it that is a devastating reaction to a temporary problem.

This video tries to look at just what debt is, and why we all buy into this culture. It looks at those who abuse it – riding on the top and unwilling to see the real suffering at the coalface. And it tries to give hope too; we do not get out of this life alive, but please god we live it to the full – regardless of our debt.

And I am in good company as this week too – the Pope released his Evangelii Gadium, or Joy of the Gospel, where he attacks capitalism as a form of tyranny. I think it is time we thought outside the box.

Here are my thoughts as I wonder about debt…



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Jillian Godsil is a writer living south of Dublin. She is also a freelance broadcaster and journalist. In 2013 she wrote four books. Next year she will write just one.  She lives with her two teenage girls, dog, cat and two horses in a tiny village. For more, see jilliangodsil.com.

Read: Most of borrower’s debt written off in first deal under new insolvency regime

Read: Additional consumer protections for debt management firms published

Read: 85 per cent in debt deals are families with children

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