Thousands rallied to give what they could to help save family from Bank of Ireland claims
Thousands of people have rallied around in an attempt to prevent a widowed father of five’s family home being repossessed by Bank of Ireland.
Ray Flavin, 40, from Ballybunion, lost his wife Trish to a heart attack in January at the age of 38 after the family, which consist of children Aoife, 17, Caoimhe, 11, Oisin, 6, and four-year-old twins fiachra and Bronagh, were served with an eviction notice. And on Monday evening almost 3,000 people have donated €80,000 (£68,270) over the course of the weekend to help him save his home.
In 2013, five years after Mr Flavin had taken out a mortgage to build a house on his father’s land with the help of friends, he was seriously injured at work. A coach fell on top of him as he was working underneath it which meant that he was out of work for almost a year, causing him to fall back on the mortgage repayments.
He approached the bank to get the monthly payment reduced and just relying on disability benefit and Trish’s part-time wages he fell into arrears of €18,000 (£15,360), before the bank started court proceedings in 2014. He didn’t tell his wife or family at first, but once he did he saw the financial difficulties weigh heavy on his wife, who began to suffer from panic attacks.
Last week the case was raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North- West Limerick, Martin Ferris.
“In January of this year, a woman by the name of Trish Flavin died suddenly, leaving five children. I would argue and her husband would argue very strongly that this was a consequence of them being victim of the tracker mortgage scandal,” Mr Ferris said. “In 2016, they received an eviction notice, a repossession from Bank of Ireland. On February 14, this year, they received an apology from the bank yet they continued to proceed with the repossession.”
Mr Flavin is representing himself in court at the moment as legal aid does not cover property disputes, and he says if he could afford solicitors’ fees he would put it towards paying his mortgage. He is determined not to lose the home his wife brought his children up in, telling news website The Journal.ie: “She made a perfect life for me there and I won’t let anyone take it, they’ll have to shoot me or knock it down around me.”
It was also revealed in court last week that the bank had admitted it was charging Mr Flavin a higher rate of interest than it should have been for an undefined ‘period of time’. But despite its admission, and the fact that Edmund Honohan, Master of the High Court noticed a discrepancy that showed the bank were seeking an order of possession for land it had no entitlement to, the bank is still fighting his appeal against a possession order granted last year.
Bank of Ireland sought an order for two plots, the plot his house was built on and the other 7.45 acres which belong to his father and were not included in the 2008 loan documents.
Last Tuesday, friends of the family have set up an online fundraising page, which is nearing the target of €120,000 (£102,000), the value of his mortgage. Showing that every little helps, the average donation has been for €30, with many nominal €5 and €10 bids helping the cause, and Mr Flavin has called the response ‘mind-blowing’.
“I can’t get over the support. It would make you proud to call yourself an Irishman,” Mr Flavin told the Irish Examiner. “It’s a weight off your shoulders. I was having sleepless nights for sure. It’s hard to put into words what that’s like, you can’t sleep or focus on anything.”