The scale of Northern Ireland’s bankruptcy nightmare was thrown into sharp relief today as it emerged that almost four people went bankrupt every day in the last financial year, with figures expected to rise dramatically.
Statistics from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Insolvency Service show that, in total, the number of bankruptcies and compulsory liquidations has skyrocketed by over 50% in five years.
In 2005/06, 892 people were made bankrupt and there were 89 compulsory liquidations — a total of 981. The following financial year, 1,008 people were made bankrupt and there were 88 compulsory liquidations; 1,096 in total.
In 2007/08 there was a slight dip to 1,036 (906 people bankrupt, 130 compulsory liquidations) before the figure rose again in 2008/09 with 1,155 bankruptcies and 155 compulsory liquidations, coming to 1,310.
Up to May this year the total was a staggering 1,429 — almost four people a day — with 1,250 people being made bankrupt and 179 compulsory liquidations.
And a look at last Friday’s Belfast Telegraph will show that the figures are set to grow for 2010/2011, with the weekly bankruptcy list swallowing almost a whole page of the paper.
People from all walks of life are being hit as the recession bites, from hoteliers to dieticians, nurses to bus drivers.
Pat Colton of the Citizens Advice Bureau said that CAB in the city has seen a 61.4% rise in the number of people choosing bankruptcy from the first three quarters of 2009, compared to the first nine months of this year.
“A lot of our clients would have a very limited income and the biggest problems are caused by credit cards and easy access to cash, which people find themselves unable to pay back,” he said.
High profile sporting stars also appear to be big casualties under the current climate.
In September leading GAA figure Joe Kernan was declared bankrupt. Mr Kernan led Armagh to their first All-Ireland Senior Football title in 2002 and more recently was in charge of the Galway team.
Away from his sporting involvement, he ran an estate agency and mortgage brokerage in Crossmaglen, which he established in 1990.
That firm, Joe Kernan & Sons Estate Agents Ltd, applied to be struck off the companies register.
His wife Patricia and two of his sons, Aaron and Stephen, have also been declared bankrupt.
And last month former Manchester United star and Northern Ireland international footballer Keith Gillespie was declared bankrupt over an unpaid tax bill.
An order was made against the player following a petition by HM Revenue and Customs lodged at Belfast High Court.
The 35-year-old is currently without a club after leaving Irish Premiership side Glentoran at the end of last season.