Swimming in Debt
ONE Limerick builder is grappling with debts of over €1.4 million and is unable to pay an outstanding bill of €15,000 to a supplier.
And a bar manager, with multiple bank loans, admitted in a county court he was unable to make payments on a €64,000 credit union loan.
These were two of the more dramatic debt cases that came before Judge Mary O’Halloran in Newcastle West recently.
The scale of debts revealed in these two cases, coupled with the fact that judgments were sought in at least 10 other cases, spell out the reality of what people know anecdotally -- that debt is a big and growing monster that threatens to swallow up individuals, families and businesses.
When the West Limerick builder appeared in court, he said his company had ceased trading early in 2008. His premises and some equipment had been repossessed. He now tries to survive on some occasional building work, paid for on a day rate.
His average weekly income, he told the judge was €200. All his loans and debts, totaling €1.4 million, including the €15,000 bill for equipment which was before the court, had been incurred by his company, he said, but were “personally guaranteed.”
“I just don’t have it,” he told the supplier’s solicitor Barry Murphy. “I am hoping for a change.”
He had offered to return some unused equipment to the supplier in part payment the court heard, but this was refused on the grounds that the equipment, supplied four years ago, could no longer be used.
He also offered to work for the creditor’s son who was building a house, but this offer was also declined because a contract with a builder had already been agreed.
“It is not an unwillingness to pay,” the man’s solicitor Pat Barriscale insisted, in reply to the supplier’s solicitor who contended the builder was in a position to pay monies.
Having heard the case, O’Halloran ordered him to pay €5 a week.

Limerick Leader

Fake Prostitutes
GANGS of women are purporting to be “ladies of the night” for hire and luring men down alleyways in Galway City under the pretext of offering sex for payment, but the women then steal the clients’ cash or wallets.
The men, who think they are hiring prostitutes, may also be assaulted down the city’s side streets by these women, the Galway City Joint Policing Committee heard last week.
City Councilor Frank Fahy, a taxi driver by trade, said this phenomenon of men being assaulted and cash stolen from them after they are lured down side streets under false pretences is happening on a regular basis at night.
Fahy said the women were from Romania, and their crimes of assault and theft are probably underreported. They “ply for hire” as prostitutes at corners of the city’s main streets -- High Street, Shop Street and Cross Street -- and then lure the men down side streets and alleyways, he said.
“When they are down the side streets the men are either assaulted or robbed,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Donal Ó Cualáin told the meeting that these types of cases have been reported to Galway Gardai (police).
He said most of the women who have been caught and processed through the courts and are over 18, although they may look younger.

Galway City Tribune

Can’t Sponsor Family
A TURKISH native who set up his own kebab business in Warrenpoint and Newry has slammed the Home Office after losing a heartbreaking two-year battle to relocate his wife and baby daughter to Northern Ireland.
Murat Inanc moved to the district in 2009 and established Chef's Kebab House. Since he arrived, he has continually applied for a visa for his wife Hacer and 11-month-old daughter Ecem so that they can live here with him.
But all three applications to date have been refused and the 34-year-old, who has his own visa, confessed he has spiraled into depression.
Now he is set to turn his back on his popular business and return to Turkey this month to be reunited with his young family.
“I need my family here. I have been here by myself for two years and I am getting depressed,” he said.
“I was given two choices -- stay here without my family or return to my country to be with my family. So I have to go back because I miss them so much.”
Inanc's first application was refused on the grounds he couldn't prove he had sufficient accommodation for his young family. He was refused a second time because he was unable to prove he could support his family financially.
The third application earlier this year was also thrown out due to doubts raised by the Home Office of his ability to provide for his family and the fear that the family would seek benefits even though he is a partner in two local businesses.

“I came here to set up a business and then take my family here," he added. “I don't receive any benefits, I work hard, I pay my taxes like everyone else and all I want from the government is to take my family here and carry on with my life, but they didn't give me that chance and I have had enough.”
Each visa application took around eight months and Inanc is drained by the whole process. He will continue to apply for a UK visa for his family when he returns to Turkey.

Newry Democrat

100 Years, Still Driving
PLENTY of hard work and plain food is the secret recipe to a long and healthy life, according to sprightly Gortin centenarian Miss Mae McGarvey, who celebrated the special milestone recently surrounded by friends and relatives.
Miss McGarvey, a retired Tyrone County Hospital maternity departmental nursing sister -- who, impressively, still drives around town in her red Ford Fiesta -- turned 100 years young on Sunday, May 16.
As part of the celebrations, she received a special telegram from the Queen, a letter from Irish President Mary McAleese, beautiful floral arrangements and a vast array of birthday cards from relatives and her many friends.
Commenting on her fondness of driving, she said, "The first car I bought was a Ford. I had no test to take back then. My youngest brother, Brian, taught me how to drive and then I saved up enough money to buy my own car.
“There weren't many cars on the road in those days.  Even when I got my first car, people always knew that it was me going and out of Omagh from work to home, as there were so few cars on the road then.
“Nowadays I have a Ford Fiesta and it is always there if I want it, and I would use it to visit my friends or to go to church if it is a wet day."
Revealing her secret to a long and healthy life, Miss McGarvey, who never married, added, "Plenty of hard work, plain food, no drink and no smoking."

Tyrone Constitution

Costly Burials
COSTS associated with burials in Westmeath have risen dramatically this year, with the county council imposing hikes in the price of plots, grave openings and permits for the erection of headstones.
The increases have been sharply criticized by Jim O'Connor of O'Connor Memorials Ltd. in Athlone, who said he was annoyed by the "crazy" rise in costs imposed by the local authority.
O'Connor's company, which crafts headstones and other stone fixtures, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in business this July. For the first 48 of those years there was no requirement to obtain a permit for the erection of a headstone.
Since the council introduced such a requirement two years ago, O'Connor has been applying for headstone permits on behalf of his customers. The original cost of the permit was €10, but from the beginning of this month that jumped to €50, an increase of 500%.
"The customer is already after paying for a funeral, paying for a plot, and paying for the opening of the grave, so this is an additional cost that people don't need at the moment," he said.
"Most people aren't aware that at a permit is even needed for the erection of headstones. They are shocked when I tell them about it."
O'Connor said the charge places an additional pressure on his business, which already has significant overheads in the form of water charges, rates and other running costs.
Other increases in burial costs which have been imposed by Westmeath County Council this year include a 50% increase in the cost of a single cemetery plot (from €300 to €450), a 50% increase in the cost of a double plot (from €600 to €900), and a 30% rise in the cost of burials (from €450 to €585).
A new charge of €100 has also been introduced for the interment of cremated remains.
At the local authority's monthly meeting in March it stated that the cost increases were necessary as the council had a €275,000 deficit in the operation of its cemeteries.

Meath Chronicle

Riverdance lead dancers Padraic Moyles and Maria Buffini performed at the National Convention Centre in Dublin last Thursday for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.