Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Consumer Credit (Amendment) Bill 2022: Second Stage


1:40 pm

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

All of us will be aware from our work in our constituencies and from our clinics that the most vulnerable in our society often rely on moneylenders. As a result, they lose large amounts and pay large sums attempting to repay these loans. We have all heard horror stories of people stuck in that cycle. It is welcome that we are here today to try to make some effort on this. However, the Bill is a poor cousin of my colleague, Deputy Doherty's, Consumer Credit (Amendment) Bill 2018. It is something that the Deputy has campaigned on for some time. He has really shone a light on the matter. It is unfortunate that this Bill is weaker, watered-down version of his Bill because the situation is at crisis point. The rising cost of living, including fuel, is severely impacting on ordinary working people who will increasingly be pushed into borrowing money in an attempt to put food on the table and keep the lights on. As Deputy Doherty outlined, the differences in the two Bills are clear. We have to understand that those who use moneylenders are the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Much of the time they are locked out of the normal banking system and pushed towards moneylenders as a consequence. They can end up clocking up vast amounts in interest. That is why Sinn Féin introduced its own Bill, which would have limited interest rates to three times the market average, much less than that in the Government Bill. This is unfortunate.

When we do not deal with these issues head on and in the best way possible it means the most vulnerable will go further into debt. They will incur higher fees and default rates will increase leading to more misery for our constituents.

It is a missed opportunity. Sometimes it feels as though this Government never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The change to how moneylenders operate in this State should have been made years ago. It should have happened when Deputy Doherty and Sinn Féin introduced his Bill. We cannot have a situation of dither, dally and delay; we need action. It is good to have some action but just doing the bare minimum means that it will not have a massive impact on those people who continue to have to rely on moneylenders and even more so with the increased inflation rates, including for fuel and rent. It is unfortunate that this was not adopted in 2018 when my colleague introduced his Bill because we would have come a long way since then.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.