Locals support family in face of eviction

Couple say they can pay almost 50pc of monthly repayments but subprime lender not interested

Supporters outside the home of Claire and Martin O’Sullivan

A couple yesterday spoke of their fear and anxiety as they and their three young children face eviction from their family home despite making an offer to repay about 50 per cent of their monthly repayments to their subprime mortgage lender.

Martin (35) and Claire O'Sullivan (40) and their children were due to be evicted from their home at Ashdale, Dun an Oir, Kanturk, in Co Cork yesterday by Cork county sheriff, Sinéad McNamara on foot of a notice for repossession issued by the High Court.

However a group of about 100 friends and supporters, including many from anti-austerity campaign groups, gathered at the semi-detached house early yesterday morning and the expected visit from bailiffs never materialised.

Claire and Martin O’Sullivan at home at Ashdale, Dun An Oir, Kanturk, Co Cork, yesterday. Photograph: Eamonn Keogh (MacMonagle, Killarney)
Supporters outside the home of Claire and Martin O’Sullivan

Mr O'Sullivan explained that the couple had put down a deposit of €110,000 and took out a mortgage for a further €150,000 from Permanent TSB when they bought the house in April 2007, but they had to remortgage the property in 2009 after his business got into difficulties.


"I was a self-employed plumber working with another fellow but the business went belly-up – we had the mortgage down to €146,000 – we remortgaged with Start Mortgages and we took another €30,000 to sort out my business debts," he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said they were initially meeting their monthly repayments of about €900 a month for some 12-18 months but as a plumber, he was badly hit by the downturn in the construction sector.

“We began to go into default in 2010 but there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. I made them two offers – first of €150 a month as a feeler and then later of €400 a month – but they said at that stage they were going for repossession and they went to the High Court,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said he could not afford to attend the High Court hearing and the repossession order had been obtained without challenge but he had heard nothing further from Start Mortgages until he received correspondence from the county sheriff on September 9th.

“We’re still hoping something can be worked out – I’m back in full-time employment and we’re willing to talk to Start Mortgages about working out some repayment schedule but they don’t want to seem to know,” he said.

“If it was just ourselves, we’d say okay but this is our home now and our three kids are settled here in school and pre-school and all their friends are here. We’re glued to our seats at the moment because we just don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Among those who joined with the O'Sullivans yesterday was Denis O'Brien of the Mallow Resists Austerity which is affiliated to the anti-eviction group, Independent Resistance Ireland. He said they would be operating a 24 hour rota to support the family.

“What’s happening here in Kanturk today is ridiculous – it’s inhuman. Martin said he was so broke he couldn’t afford to go to the court case in Dublin but he’s making an effort to try and pay €100 a week if that could be sorted but Start Mortgages don’t seem to want to know.”

Mr O'Brien said Ireland urgently needed an alternative negotiating system whereby families willing to make reduced payments could be dealt with fairly. Attempts to obtain a comment from Start Mortgages proved unsuccessful.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times