More than 3,500 people have signed a petition calling for the Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan, to be returned to his oversight of Irish debt cases.
Honohan had dealt with up to 200 cases a week involving claims over debts, but last month Mr. Justice Peter Kelly, the President of the Irish High Court, made the controversial decision to assign each of his debt cases to a High Court judge.
Honohan is a prominent critic of banks and so-called vulture funds in their efforts to secure financial judgments against debtors. Last year Honohan announced that he had drawn up a Bill to help Irish debtors facing repossession.
Responding to the recent developments about 50 people took part in a spirited demonstration outside the High Court in Dublin last week. Singer and songwriter Liam O Maonlai of the Hothouse Flowers played music while film director Terry McMahon spoke at the protest gathering.
A petition was also set up on Change.Org by a group calling for the reversal of the High Court's decision to remove Honohan from debt cases. “Irish People for Edmund Honohan,” wrote that they believe that Honohan acts in the interests of the Irish people, justice and good law.
“His proposed “Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill” gives merit to our argument, and to his dedication and acumen,” the group wrote. “With a tsunami of homelessness in the pipeline, and no governmental solutions put forward, the proposed removal of Edmund Honohan from debt cases would be disrespectful to due process for the better good.”
In an interview with the Irish Independent this week, Honohan said Mr. Justice Peter Kelly's decision to remove debt cases from the Master's court could lead to debtors being “steamrollered” as inexperienced judges may be more accepting of affidavits filed by banks that he would be.
In a statement, Right2Homes founder Brian O’Reilly wrote, “We believe this arbitrary move was made in order to circumvent “distressed-mortgage” related work, in order to expedite possession cases. This workload involves examining up to two hundred cases a week.”
“The fact is, that so far, our State refuses to provide Free Legal Aid in mortgage distress cases. This is the main reason for our demand, that Edmund Honohan remains in situ. We are shocked and dismayed at such a questionable action of the High Court. An action which only favors banks, Vulture Funds, and related vested interests.”
“Edmund Honohan is a man of honor and integrity. He continues to be a stalwart in the provision of legal guidance to many thousands of lay-litigants and distressed families. He has also drafted proposed legislation to help keep people in their homes.”
"The “Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill 2018” has so far been resisted by Government, mainly with the assistance of their so-called “opposition” party."
The Bill is currently at second-stage in the Dail (Irish Parliament) and Right 2Homes is asking its supporters to apply pressure on TD's (Members of Parliament) to ensure its progress, without delay.