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Go bankrupt in Northern Ireland, Ben Dunne urges families in Republic

By Grainne Cunningham

Published 14/04/2013

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Businessman Ben Dunne has urged families struggling with mortgage debt to follow the lead of wealthy property developers and file for bankruptcy in Northern Ireland or Britain.

Instead of spending the rest of their lives fruitlessly trying to pay off a debt burden, people who chose this option would be able to return to Ireland debt free after 15 months, he explained.

"Do not let the banks bully you," he said.

"I'd prefer to go through torture for a year instead of 30 years on the drip," Mr Dunne said on Joe Duffy's 'Liveline'.

He urged ordinary homeowners to follow the lead of more high-profile developers such as Sean Dunne, who is trying to file for bankruptcy in the United States, or Tom McFeely and Bernard McNamara who went to the UK. Other jurisdictions are more lenient on bankrupts who can be cleared of their debts typically within 12 months.

By comparison, the current Irish law has a discharge period of up to 12 years and the imminent Personal Insolvency Bill provides for automatic discharge from bankruptcy, subject to certain conditions, after three years.

David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation said that 13 of his clients had already either taken the radical route proposed by Mr Dunne or were in the process of doing so.

Mr Hall said that "everybody considers bankruptcy" when faced with unmanageable mortgage debt.

He said the Irish government and the banks were irresponsible for failing to address the issue of the large number of homeowners who were in serious arrears.

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