Cancer patient risks losing home over mortgage debt

Limerick County Registrar hears 219 repossession cases

Permanent TSB has requested a possession order on the home of Ger Lonergan from Limerick, who is undergoing treatment for cancer

A Co Limerick father who is undergoing treatment for cancer is in danger of losing his home over a mortgage debt of €32,000.

Ger Lonergan was one of 219 repossession cases listed before the county registrar, Pat Wallace, at Limerick Courthouse yesterday.

In 1995, Mr Lonergan (51) took out a £33,000 mortgage on the home he was born in to pay off tax arrears.

The father of two continued to make repayments on the loan until he became ill in 2007. At that time the loan had been reduced to €3,500.


However, Mr Lonergan was unable to continue with repayments as he was forced to give up his job as a plasterer due to illness.

Last October he was diagnosed with cancer and is due to begin chemotherapy treatment in the coming weeks.

Permanent TSB has requested a possession order on Mr Lonergan's home, where he lives with his wife, Noreen, and their two daughters, as outstanding debts have now reached €32,000 due to interest and penalties.

“It’s stressful, to be honest,” Mr Lonergan said. “My working days are over. It took me four years to get disability payment, which is €78 a week.”

Permanent TSB, he said, is “looking for possession of my house. Four of us live there. I have offered to pay them 10 per cent of what they are looking for, but I have had no correspondence with them. I’ve submitted all the medical evidence and I have got no correspondence.”

Mr Lonergan broke down as he described his stressful situation and criticised the bank’s attitude. “Al Capone would be like a saint” in comparison, he said.

Mr Lonergan’s case was adjourned by the county registrar until May 8th to give him more time to fill out another financial statement.

More than two dozen other cases were also adjourned until May 8th.

Only two possession orders were granted, while the majority of cases were adjourned for lengthier periods to allow for the borrowers to engage with the banks.

Mr Wallace also granted a number of sub-service orders, which means the banks are allowed to pin the notice of repossession proceedings on the front door of the property rather than send out letters.

Limerick solicitor Gerard O’Neill, who represented many of the borrowers, said he had many clients who could not face coming into court because of stress.

“That’s not a good sign, but that’s the reality of it,” he said. “One lady has had a nervous breakdown, receiving phone calls at home from the bank. I asked the bank not to phone her but they still do.

“The problem is there are a number of departments,” he added. “You can never make out who’s going to make the next call or send the next letter.”

Fianna Fáil TDs Niall Collins and Willie O'Dea were in court to lend their support to the borrowers.