Writing again

Oct 19th, 2008 | By | Category: Ireland

The last letter to the ‘Irish Times’ being ignored, another effort seemed in order.

Repossession of houses

Alison Healy’s article on repossessions (Irish Times, Saturday 18th
October) would not have arisen in a society that took seriously its
Christian roots.

Jesus tells a story regarding the forgiveness of debt in Saint Matthew
Chapter 18, verses 21 to 35 which deals with those who have been
forgiven huge debts, but then turn on people owing relatively tiny
amounts.  A servant forgiven a debt of ten thousand talents pursues
someone owing one hundred denarii, a sum which is one five hundred
thousandth of the large debt owed.  It is comparable to being forgiven
fifty billion and pursuing someone for one hundred thousand.  The
servant forgiven a huge amount is tortured for not forgiving the
person owing a tiny amount.

In a context where the Government has treated with charity banks that
have incurred debts of billions, it might have been hoped that those
institutions might have acted with more charity towards those owing
thousands, but that appears not to be the case.  If the banks intend
pursuing the path of repossession, then might the Government intervene
in a positive way; as it acted as lender of the last resort to the
financial institutions, might it act as lender of the last resort to
individuals?  As it guaranteed that no bank would collapse, will it
also guarantee that no family will be driven from their home?

To establish a state agency to safeguard the homes of those threatened
by repossession would be an expeditious thing to do.  It would bring
confidence into the market and would ensure that there would not be a
complete collapse of housing prices as repossessed houses are put onto
the market at ‘fire sale’ prices.  It would also be a Gospel thing to
do, a Christian government would always seek to protect the weak and
the vulnerable.

Finally, should the path of repossession be one that the Government is
prepared to tolerate, might it not be compelled by the courts to
uphold the terms of Article 41.2.2 of the Constitution, “The State
shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be
obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of
their duties in the home” and, accordingly, be compelled to intervene
to protect homes and families?

Yours faithfully

Ian Poulton

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  1. Interesting argument. Though regarding Article 41.2.2, the Supreme Court has found the provision to be of little practical value and unlikely to be invoked against the State (L v L If I recall correctly being the relevant case.)

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