In the Seanad today Senator Thomas Byrne of Fianna Fáil secured an extraordinary admission from the Government that home repossession cases in the Circuit Court cannot be heard by judges because there are so many and because of the resource implications it would have. Research by Senator Byrne shows that nearly all repossessions cases in the Circuit Court are now being dealt with by County Registrars and not Judges.
Senator Byrne commented, “Of the 8164 repossessions applied for in 2014 in the Circuit Court, practically all cases will be heard and decided upon not by a Judge but by a Court Official. The vast majority of the people whose homes are at risk have no legal representation or support going through this process. This is just wrong at many levels. County Registrars have constitutionally limited powers and in normal circumstances would limit their role to minor and procedural issues.
“Putting someone out of their home is not a minor or procedural issue – it is in many cases the most traumatic life event that these people will face. The idea that it has become so common place that these families are just processed as a matter of course with no judicial input is an indictment of the lack of interest the Government has shown in trying to help people stay in their homes.
“In the Seanad this morning I was determined to get to the bottom of the Government’s attitude and the result was shocking. Minister Kevin Humphreys on behalf of Minister Frances FitzGerald effectively acknowledged that the wave of repossessions has completely overwhelmed the judicial system.”
The Minister stated “The Senator may wish to note that in 2014 a total of 8164 Civil Bills for an order of possession were lodged in the Circuit Court. As the Senator will appreciate, if all these cases were to be heard by a member of the judiciary it would have significant recourse implications for the courts”.
“The Minister’s answer is a stark acknowledgement of failure, but one with no remorse. The Government put the banks into the driving seat on the issue of repossessions and denied at the time that it would have any negative impact. We are now seeing the scale of that impact – a stream of frustration, anger and despair running through our country. The fact that the families going through the catastrophe of repossession cannot even look forward to a formal judicial process, and that they are dismissed as a financial inconvenience is a tragic indictment of where we have got to,” concluded Senator Byrne.