Noonan: Difference between those who can't pay and those who won't20/04/2012 - 13:51:39
Finance Minister Michael Nooan has said that the Government has pledged to keep people in their homes, but not in ''21 different homes''.
"We must distinguish between people who can't pay and people who won't pay," the Minister said, referring to the much-publicised eviction of a couple from their Dublin home this week.
Qualified accountant Brendan Kelly, 71, and his wife Asta were filmed as sheriffs escorted them from the plush property in St Matthias Wood, Killiney on Wednesday.
Their eviction from their gated-community residence — which was valued at €3.75m at the peak of the property market in 2008 — prompted outrage after it was captured on video and circulated on social media websites.
However, the public reaction was mixed after it emerged the couple retain a large property portfolio in Ireland, which they bought after selling up a successful retail business they ran for many years in Germany.
It has also emerged that the couple bought the property in 2004 with the aid of a €2m mortgage from Irish Nationwide - now held by the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) and have a number of other properties in their portfolio which are currently rented out to tenants.
Property records show both he and his wife had a portfolio of 21 properties in some of the most affluent areas of south Dublin, such as Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Beggars Bush.
The couple, who repeatedly refused to discuss their huge investments and extensive mortgages they secured while in their 60s, likened their removal to a 19th-century eviction.
Mr Kelly said he believed they may have gone into arrears in 2009 but could not be certain. Nor could he confirm exactly when the bank served the repossession order. He said it may have been in the middle of 2010.
The Killiney property is now on the market with an asking price of €2.2m.
Mr Kelly admitted he and his German-born wife, who have no children, overstretched themselves at the time but said many others did likewise.
The couple ran retail stores in an affluent German holiday resort. They sold up and retired to Ireland where Mr Kelly says he now works as a professional landlord.
The Sligo-born man said he spoke to the IBRC the day before the eviction and asked for it to be postponed. He also claimed his financial position improved in the last few weeks.
But the bailiffs appeared and a sheriff removed the pair from the house.
The incident prompted a sit-in protest at the office of the Dublin city and county sheriff in Temple Bar yesterday afternoon, while the matter was also raised in the Dáil.
Today Minister Noonan said the much-publicised eviction was "well-designed".
"We have no pledge to keep people in 21 different homes and we must distinguish between people who can't pay and people who won't pay," he said.
"For those who can't pay we have a series of policies, so that the banks will deal with (debtors) on a case-by-case basis to relieve the burden.
The Kellys last night spent their second night in a tent on the road outside the vacated Killiney property in protest at the manner in which the eviction was carried out.
Video: Footage from YouTube of the couple's eviction on Wednesday:
Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described as "peculiar" the circumstances surrounding the eviction.
Mr Kenny said it was strange that given the Kellys had an eviction order served on them two years ago that they had not made arrangements for somewhere to live.
"A decision was made on acquiring this premises some time ago," he said.
"It does appear somewhat strange that the couple have very extensive properties where they can live."
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore had yesterday said he was saddened to see the couple put out of their home. He said the issue served as a reminder for the Government to prioritise dealing with mortgage issues and householders in arrears.
Additional reporting: Irish Examiner
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