Independents can make a difference – the Power of One

READ MY MANIFESTO HERE

 

The power of ONE can change laws. Do no doubt where there is a will there is a way. Where one person can change laws, think what many people can do.

On Tuesday April 1, 2014, The Irish Cabinet agreed to reverse the ban on bankrupts running for public office. This is a monumental change. The law has been in place since the foundation of the State. In fact, this law prohibited James Larkin from taking up his Dail seat in 1927. The Cabinet is now rushing through a bill that will alter this in time for nominations for the European Elections on April 17.

This is directly attributable to my legal case in the High Court.  I had brought a case to challenge the ban on bankrupts. Nicholas Kearns, President of the High Court, was unable for time constraints to hear my case before April 17 and so had set a date for July. However, given the incontrovertible case in favour of changing the law, Government acted with sense. Now, that is not a comment I would have thought to have made in recent years. It acted with sense and took action to reverse the ban in time for April 17.

Why did it need to be changed? It makes no sense (there is that word again). A person bankrupted in another country can run for the Dail or remain in the Dail, but if they are bankrupted here they cannot. This archaic law was formed in times were bankruptcy was seen as a moral failure, not a business condition. This change should have been incorporated in the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy laws but was overlooked – along with a whole raft of other issues. I raised the challenge to highlight these new laws which are sadly lacking in common sense. Our Insolvency Laws are still not fit for purpose. A report issued yesterday demonstrates this clearly with only 4 cases completed using the Insolvency Service and more than 60 people using bankruptcy. The laws need to be changed – quickly – to help people in debt. Having been through the whole process I know how to fix it; creating clean, business-like and compassionate law. Law that reflects the society we want to live in, not the polarised version we exist in at the moment

Back to the power of One – If one person can change law, think what many can do. Voting for an independent can make a difference. I have made a difference already – and I’m not even formally on the ballot paper.

Of course, even an Independent needs help and I have to thank the amazing legal team behind the court case: Dr Michael Forde. Richard Humphries, Colm MacGeehin and Ruandhan.

Think on this:

There is a well-documented swing away from political party voting towards Independents, it is coupled with a general feeling of disillusionment and disenfranchisement as a whole. I am not a betting woman but if I were, I would hazard a bet that we will see an all-time low in turn out for the coming local and European elections.

This disillusionment can be directly linked back to the General Election three years ago where Fianna Fail got their comeuppance and Fine Gael / Labour were given a clear and powerful mandate to reverse cronyism and fight for Ireland in Europe. This mandate was totally ignored.

‘Isn’t that what you do during an election’ said Pat Rabitte

What? Tell lies? Bald and bad political thinking at its worst.

So people moved their support to Independents who were at least not directly culpable for creating the mess or indeed for perpetuating it; independents who were not tied to the party whip and who could vote with their conscience not according to the latest political expediency.

But the big problem facing Independents is that they lack power. Their very independence means they don’t have the big political wheels churning behind them.

THINK AGAIN.

I have made a difference. Come join me and make a difference. Think what we can to when we all come together.

Irish Men and Irish Women – for the sake of Democracy – Let us all Unite

Jillian Godsil

 

 

 

 

Let’s ALL be somebody!

We are a talkative nation. Put any two Irish people together and we will talk. We will talk in a bus queue, after mass, in the pub, on the street, in our homes and in our offices. And we are not behind in our opinions. We can be quite forceful in our views. And we are also very good about giving out when things are not right. Talk to Joe on RTE radio is one of our longest running programmes and it is amazing the number of topics we can give out about. And when we give out, we often say that somebody should do something about that. Somebody should do something.

 

Well, I decided to be that somebody. It wasn’t that I considered myself better than anyone else at doing something. It wasn’t that I felt I was any more qualified to be that somebody. It wasn’t even that I thought I had a God-given right to be that somebody – I just felt that I had to be the change I wanted to see. So I had to be that somebody.

 

Of course, somebody is also your mother, your sister, your daughter, your wife. Somebody is your friend, your first date, your last date, your golf partner. Somebody is the girl next door, is Mrs Murphy down the street, is the woman in the shop, is the woman hanging out the washing. Somebody is the attendant in the petrol station, the bus driver, the chap smoking on the corner, the woman pushing her child in her pram. Somebody is also you.

 

Even as I become that somebody, I would love if you could become somebody too. When I stand for election, I would love if somebody would vote for me, somebody just like you, in fact, it is you!

Jillian Godsil

 

Public Service

March 20, 2014

I am running for public service. I believe that the past six years have led me to this place. There is a reason for my experience and now I want to turn it into an asset to help others. I am finalising what I can bring to the table and in the interim, here is where it all started – it started with debt.

I wonder – about Debt This is a 30 minute video about debt and this is why I am running for public service

Here also is my appearance on the RTE news talking about bankruptcy last night- my first official interview as a person looking to stand for public office – but guess what? I’m still saying the same things! RTE About the second minute

Thank you

Jillian

March 20, 2014

 

 

Bankrupt

There is no one more surprised than myself to be in front of the judge in the High Court on February 17, 2014 and to hear the words that I was declared bankrupt. The surprise lay in the fact of the judgement – how had I, Jillian Godsil, arrived at this point?  I had always worked hard, I had been financially independent since a student, and I had not ‘partied’ during the Celtic Tiger. Far from it, I had been a hard-working, self-employed mother of two small children.

I grew up in Dublin, one of six children, and attended Rathfarnham Parish School, The High School Danum before going on to read History and English at Trinity College Dublin.  I loved Trinity and flourished behind those grey walls. As I approached my final examinations, I struggled to consider what career I might take. A number of international financial organisations held graduate evenings in the college and I tagged along with business students who were friends. I was most impressed by the JP Morgan presentation and the following week put in a standard CV to the bank. To my surprise I was called to interviews both in Dublin and London and was subsequently offered a job before I had sat my finals.  I achieved a respectable 2-1 in June and moved to London in September 1987 and began my first career in banking. I was hired on the graduate programme and settled into city life. I spent in total three years in London, buying an apartment in Islington along the way. I also met my future husband and became engaged towards the end of that furlong. He was transferred to Sydney and I happily followed shortly afterwards, embarking on a new career, that of public relations.

We spent three years in Sydney. I quickly rose to senior consultant with a small pr company before transferring to a large US multinational, Hill & Knowlton. During that time, we also flew to Fiji in 1991 and were married on Valentine’s day.  In 1992, My husband was then transferred to Singapore and I joined the Singapore office of Hill & Knowlton with a rather cumbersome title of Asia Pacific Director of Advanced Technology. During our eighteen months in Singapore I also conceived and gave birth to our first child; it was a busy time.

My husband’s job was reaching an end in Singapore and being a new mother I was homesick. Accordingly we chose Dublin over London as our next city of choice. I returned home in advance of my husband, buying our home on Leinster Road before he was discharged from Singapore. He found employment in the IFSC in Dublin and I worked briefly for a local pr firm before joining Iona Technologies as its PRO. We were well established in Dublin; we both had good jobs, our Georgian house was renovated, and I became pregnant with our second child. It was around this period that my husband felt he was unwell and perhaps suffering from a breakdown. He was very unhappy in work and wished to try a new career. He was an excellent cook and so we decided to buy a guesthouse near to Dublin.

We sold our home in Leinster Road and bought a ruin in Co Wicklow called Raheengraney House in 1997. We moved in with my parents for three months while we did it up. A year later we moved out but the house was still largely a building site. It was to take the guts of another year before we finished the renovation, at which point my husband then switched to renovating an outbuilding into guest accommodation and planting the gardens. At the time we bought the house, I opened a pr consultancy, quickly winning new accounts in the growing economy. When the house was ready for guests, my husband was not. My business had grown substantially during this initial period and I took over the role of sole breadwinner. We did not run a guesthouse afterwards but lived in gracious rooms.

In 2007 my life on the outside was perfect; I was married with two beautiful children, living in a comfortable house, owning a successful business and contributing to the local community. I was involved in the local church; I was honorary secretary of the select vestry, church warden, choir member and Sunday school teacher. I was active in my children’s hobbies: I was a committee member and PRO for the Shillelagh Pony Club. I was active in my own interests: I was a committee member and PRO of the Tinahely Riding club, I was a choir member of the Tullow Singers, I was a volunteer with the Irish charity To Russian with Love and sponsored a Russian orphan, and I was the pro bono PRO for the equine charity, The Irish Horse Welfare Trust. In my spare time I walked the local roads, read books and dreamt one day of writing the Irish novel.

At this time the house was valued at €1.65million.  Since my husband was not working, he wanted to create a pension for our retirement and bought property in Portugal, using equity from the family home. As a result we grew the mortgage to €800,000. My business was thriving in the Celtic Tiger and was easily able to repay the interest. Again I was the supportive wife and agreed to this plan. I had worked on different continents and succeeded. I had lived through the dotcom boom and crash and succeeded. I had never failed financially before, far from it. I was a hard and diligent worker and had proven myself capable of supporting the family by my own efforts over the past ten years without any income support from my husband

This perfect life was however crumbling from the inside.

I hit first the dissolution of my marriage and then the crashing impact of the recession. I could have withstood one, but not both. Add into that mix a very difficult and extremely expensive family law confrontation and the seeds of my bankruptcy took hold and flourished.

As part of the divorce, the house was put on the market in 2008 and fetched an offer of €1.1million. However, this was retracted due to personal circumstances of behalf of the buyer and now we faced into the property crash. The overseas investment went to pay the shockingly high family law legal fees. These were compounded by my husband first bringing a commercial case in the High Court which was subsequently joined to a family law suit. It was largely farcical and resulted in huge legal fees (almost €100,000 in my case), many delays and subsequent asset loses through the passage of time and descent into recession. We concluded our legal separation in the High Court on February 2, 2010, with the children remaining with me and our debts shared equally.

Following our legal separation, my ex-husband returned to the UK and became bankrupt, thereby leaving the entire mortgage debt to myself and the two children. I struggled hard to find a way to climb out of my increasing financial difficulties. My business was affected and fee income dropped dramatically. In August 2010 my ex-husband filed for divorce in Chelmsford in the UK. It was concluded a number of months later on the basis of being apart for more than two years.

When my ex-husband moved to the UK, the children and I moved out of the big house; it was too expensive to heat. We moved to a two bedroom cottage in nearby Coolboy. I rented Raheengraney house to a number of tenants, passing the rent directly to the bank. However, the rent was not sufficient and the arrears grew to a devastating and unmanageable €200,000. I then lost my tenant and the house was in no fit state to rent out again. In desperation in 2011, I made a video to sell the house.  It went viral and a cash offer of €500,000 was received within weeks. In a crushing and inexplicable blow, the bank refused consent to sell. This was the landmark point in determining if I could have avoided bankruptcy or not. From April 2011 until the house was finally repossessed in March 2013, I fought tooth and nail to find a solution. If I could not sell it, perhaps I could turn it into a business, find a white knight, or attract a backer. I expended huge energies in trying to extricate myself from this growing debt but nothing worked. In fact, the opposite happened, my own business began to suffer, slowly at first and then more noticeably as the recession took hold. In fairness to my departing client base, they also commented that my work rate was not the same as previously. The stress was taking its toll on me, intellectually and commercially.

The limited company floundered. Bailiffs were called and finding nothing of value, went away again. I attempted to trade my way out of insolvency but despite moving mountains, in August 2012, I closed the doors on my business and retired home to lick my wounds. For the next six months I suffered from severe depression. 2013 did not begin with any more hope. Legal proceedings issued by Bank of Scotland before Christmas landed me in court in February. Despite the county registrar’s initial backing of my case -  I had secured another offer, this time of €220,000 – a second visit to court sealed the repossession order. The sheriff took the house formally in August 2013 and proceeded to sell it for less than €160,000 in February of this year. At this point I had an unsecured debt of 1 million plus, no business and no hope.

When the new laws were introduced last September by the government to tackle the country’s growing indebtedness, of which I was now a statistic, I attempted to enter the insolvency process. Ironically I was too broke. I did not have sufficient income to engage, despite being handled pro bono by the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, the law not being fit to cater for truly insolvent individuals.

There was no other option but bankruptcy. I filed on January 7, 2014 and was adjudicated a bankrupt on February 17.  I met with my case officers on March 10 to enter all the particulars of my assets, or rather the lack of same. It was with chilling awareness I was told that while the duration of the bankruptcy was three years, should I obtain work prior to the termination of that period, even as late as the last day, that the Insolvency Service might and very much would slap a judgement order on my salary for a further five years. In short while all debts incurred over the next three years were mine and mine alone, any assets could be seized as theirs. For all their politeness, the steely menace of the system was not for turning. I am to return to court on March 31 to confirm my compliance with the court officers and system.

I never imagined that I might be in this terrible place – all my life’s savings gone, my home gone and in receipt of social welfare.  Moreover, I am not alone. This fact does not provide any comfort, however, as I see people facing into similar distressing situations. Bankruptcy is a solution, but it is not a panacea for the truly insolvent. Children still have to be fed, rent still has to be paid, and bills still have to be met. It is ground zero which is better than sub terrain, but only marginally.

 

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2014

The 8th Annual Short Story Challenge is a creative writing competition open to writers around the world.  There are 3 rounds of competition.  In the 1st Round (February 7-15, 2014), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment.  Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.  The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (March 27-30, 2014) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story.  Judges choose finalists from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where writers are challenged to write a 1,500 word(maximum) story in just 24 hours (May 2-3, 2014).  A panel of judges review the final round stories and overall winners are selected.

nycmidnight

 

NYCMidnight

I was put into Heat 6 where the genre was fairy tale and the character of a hunter had to be incorporated. I wrote my story the first day (which speed of writing I hope I can emulate if I get into the next round). Here is my story…

 

In Full Pursuit

 

This is a story set in a world where only one child is allowed per family; any other children are considered illegals and are hunted down and killed. The title is taken from Oscar Wilde’s quote on fox hunting: ‘The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable’.

 

 

He pushed open the door and entered the warm room. The gas lights were dim and the fire smoked, but it was better than the storm outside. Peter shook his furs and stamped his feet; snow littered the ground around him.  The barman looked up and gave him a neutral smile. Peter knew from experience that while he was never welcome, he was never turned away.

‘What will you have?’

‘A beer,’ said Peter looking around. ‘Have you any food left?’ It was late and the other patrons were talking into their drinks, a low rumble of chatter that clearly focused on his arrival.

‘Stew,’ said the barman pouring a beer. Peter nodded, accepting the beer and downing half it in one gulp. It was thirsty work and lonely. Most other hunters that he knew were more than fond of their beer. Peter steered on the side of caution, on the side of angels, reserving beer for the night and eschewing spirits altogether. He had shared huts with hunters who rose to beer or spirits and it wasn’t a pretty sight. It also made them uncertain stalkers; innocents were often caught in the cross hairs fuelled by a liquid breakfast. To be a hunter was to be a nomad and it was the loneliness that often led them to find solace in the bottle. Peter thanked his lucky stars for Maura, as he did often on a daily basis. Two kindred spirits, one ostracised for her healing, the other for his killing. Opposite sides of a single coin that spun through the air and had never yet found its landing place, its safe haven.

The stew was produced and Peter ate it hungrily without speaking. The barman polished a glass and watched him closely. Peter could sense he was curious and with good reason for Peter rarely travelled this far north. There was nothing or no one to hunt in these parts. When he finished, he burped loudly in compliment, pushed his bowl back and indicated he wanted another beer. The barman filled his glass and removed the empty bowl.

‘That did the trick,’ the barman said. ‘So, what brings you to our mountains?’

Peter could sense the interest across the bar; all ears were turned towards him. He could feel the curiosity quivering in the air. He burped again into silence and said: ‘That was a fine stew, thank you.’ Peter wondered if he should tell him or not. Sometimes he could get good intelligence from the locals. By the question, he presumed that he was the first hunter in the area, good if his instincts were right, bad if he was off course. He took another gulp of his beer. ‘Illegal child,’ he said. ‘From the Runoffs.’

The barman’s eyes narrowed. He spat onto the floor in disgust. ‘Dirty, nasty things,’ he said. ‘We don’t want them around here. No, we don’t.’

Peter nodded: ‘Any sightings then?’

‘No, we’d have called the Constabulary if we’d suspected anything. From the Runoffs you say? They are a bad lot there. Always flaunting the rules. Just one will do, don’t they get that message. Illegal children cause hardship always. Can’t be trusted. They don’t go to the Institution to be learned right,’ and he paused to check Peter’s reaction. Peter just nodded. ‘Dirty, nasty things,’ the barman repeated, polishing the glass vigorously.

Peter finished his beer. ‘Is there a room free?’ he asked.

‘Just in the shed,’ the barman replied. ‘But, it’s clean and there is fresh straw.’

Peter nodded. He was used to outside accommodation. His furs were old and hummed; strange smells of blood-iron, smoke from open fires and sweat from chasing prey. A heady cocktail, it wasn’t pleasant. When he moved to his shed, he knew the patrons would flap the air to try and get rid of his scent. They would not be so rude, or foolish, to do it while he was still there. Peter agreed a fee and paid the man. He would be long gone before anyone woke in this hamlet.

Morning came early, mists clinging to the side of the mountain, and the fresh tang of snow in the wind. It was bitterly cold and Peter wondered about his prey. Ten years of age, a female and no doubt scrawny. Illegal children were always thin and hard to stomach. The first one had been seven years ago, a young boy with burns on his face and legs where he had hidden in a chimney of all places; with a fire at the bottom. He had escaped so maybe he wasn’t that foolish, but it only gained him six more months of life. Peter wondered if the scars had had time to heal before he slit his throat. All that pain for six months of life; Peter wondered if it had been worth it. The boy had taken a solid week to track and in the end it was tiredness not lack of guile that let him down. Peter dispatched him quickly, a mercy killing he called it, but his face continued to haunt his sleep. When tracking children the memories surfaced again and Peter preferred not to sleep, not to chance to dream.

Peter left the shed, which had been warm, and strode off in the still air. He moved noiselessly for a man so large. He was so far north he wondered about detouring to see Maura afterwards. It had been almost eight months since he had been here last, that time chasing a convict; a weaselly, skunk of a man. He had been sentenced to death for murder, an eye for an eye, but escaped before the gallows could claim him. It was Peter who found him and returned him to the platform. The City wanted to see convicts hanged but preferred to have children executed in the field. No one wanted to know about the illegal children, and even less to see them. It was an intermittent problem, usually flushed out by inspections and areas like the Runoffs gave consistent trouble.

At the thought of Maura, Peter’s mood brightened. When he visited she made him strip before he was allowed enter her cabin. ‘Leaving the blood outside,’ she said. She would boil water and fill a bath for him. He stomped around outside waiting for her tiny kettles to boil enough water. When she opened the door, he would bellow and strip in a single gesture, before running into the house and climbing into the hot bath. Maura cleaned him with aromatic soaps and oils, anointing him for her pleasure. It was the one time his scent was submerged to hers. Sometimes she would join him in the bath, naked but for her amulet; an amber stone shaped like a cat’s claw. She had been found with it as a baby; an illegal child, but found by a childless couple and so given a stay of execution. She attended the Institution with all the legal children but she never fitted in. Now, as a healer she lived a hermit-like existence. Without words, Peter knew he was the only man who visited her, but she never asked him to stay. It was just the way things were.

Peter walked on through the morning. Why had he come to this area? Some instinct told him the illegal had come this way. He had tracked her directly for some twenty miles before losing the scent. He had a choice; to continue on the seaward direction or move inland. He had chosen inland and upmountain. All he knew about the illegal was she was light on her feet and good at climbing. He looked seaward and at the mountains. A climber would choose the mountains he reasoned and so he turned uphill. This was his second day without any tracks. He was not worried. He had more furs and flesh on him, than she had on her skinny body. Either he or nature would have its way. He walked all day without hesitation; it was as if the wind carried an invisible code and he sniffed each time he stopped for new directions. At dusk, he paused at the edge of a wooded area and looked around. Something caught his eye. It was a lone deer, grazing at the edge of the wood. He drew his bow carefully and took aim. The arrow pierced her eye and she fell quietly. Then he saw she had a fawn standing closer into the woods, he drew his bow again but the young animal slipped back into the shadow of the trees and was gone. Peter cursed. He would have liked to have brought both as a gift to Maura. Still, a deer was a mighty present and this was a plump creature. He swiftly gralloched the deer, tied up its hooves and strung the body up in a hammock over a tree. He would collect it later and this way it should be safe from scavengers.

 

When night fell, Peter curled up in his furs and slept. He wondered if he was close to the illegal and if she had managed to find any food or shelter. No one in these parts would harbour her; the penalties were too high and illegals generally despised. ‘Nasty, dirty things’ the barman had called them and he was not alone. Peter’s dreams were vivid again and he cursed when he woke. Then he stopped. He heard something: a tiny noise of a branch not snapping but being bent to its limit, a tiny creak. Peter silently moved to the edge of the woods. He was hidden behind a tree when he saw her; pale and thin against the dark trees. She stepped gingerly along the wooded path, for there were many twigs capable of yielding their noises. She had no furs as he suspected but dirty rags of clothes. He watched as she picked her way in the early morning light. She was actually moving in his direction. He must be upwind for surely she would have smelt him by now. He stood rigid as a statue hardly breathing. He didn’t dare draw his bow for fear of giving his presence away. Slowly, inch by terrible inch, she moved closer to him. He could smell her in the wind, tangy and light. He waited until she was mere feet away from him before he unleashed his bellow and ran at her. The sudden noise and movement surprised her. She did not run. She blinked instead and in that moment, he had his hands around her neck. He was choking her and she made not a sound. Her eyes rounded and a single tear fell down her cheek. He closed his hands tighter and shook her frame as if she was a doll. Her hands rose then fell. At that instance, a chain fell forward from around the neck; a chain with a bright amber pendent. It was Peter’s turn to blink but he loosened his hands. He had been about to break the fragile neck but the chain banged against his wrists. He removed one hand and looked at the pendent. It was of a cat’s claw.

‘Who are you?’ he hissed angrily. Her face remained the same; impassive but her lips moved though no sound came out. Peter released her neck. He placed both hands on her shoulders and he could feel her body shaking. ‘Who are you?’ he repeated but she gave no answer. For the first time in his life, Peter could feel an indecision rising in him like a volcano. He cursed again loudly. This death was worth more than 500 coins to him. He could live a year on that kind of money. The illegal looked at him. Her lips had stopped moving. Had she been trying to explain who she was or to ask for mercy? It was obvious, even to an illegal or rather especially to an illegal, that he was a hunter and no quarter would be given.

 

Maura did not run the bath for Peter. He handed over the illegal and the deer, but not before cutting its throat and blooding the illegal’s clothes with it. He watched the woman and the child stand in the doorway. As he watched, Maura closed the door and put on the bath instead for the child. Peter would not visit her again. He carried the illegal’s life in his hands. Returning to the City he presented the torn and bloodied clothes and collected his payment. He did not visit the North again. He found solace instead in the contents of a bottle. His drunken dreams were filled with the images of the boy but he never remembered them when he woke. That was the one gift the bottle could give him.

 

The end

Jillian Godsil

 

 

 

Through a looking glass, darkly

panti

What has happened with our country? We are going through one of the darkest periods of our modern history, with more people queuing up to see Garth Brooks than demonstrating against our governmental self-inflicted poverty. And when it comes to showing what is happening we are reliant on the outsiders to show the truth, even if we have to view our society through a fake wig and eye lashes. When did the truth become more true when delivered by a man dressed as woman. And please do not get me wrong, I have nothing against a man dressed as a woman, maybe not my man, but I fully support Panti’s dress code, gender code, wig code., but doesn’t it say something when the so called ‘outsiders’ of a society are leading the truth charge?

In the same way, feminist, activist, erotica writer Aoife Brennan is leading a little charge all of her own. I interviewed her last year about her first book of erotica and it was all about ‘real world sex’ but the second two books developed into full scale feminism and her trilogy has become thinking women’s erotica. Her erotica is the genre that dares to speak its name. Her books, which touch on financially inspired suicide, the banks, social media, women’s choices, austerity, legal issues, and much more, including graphic sex, were quoted on Twitter recently as being the lynchpin of Enda’s comments. So the Irish prime minster is now relying on a feminist erotic book to explain what is going wrong with the country.

When the outsiders of society point to harsh truths, then it is time to listen …

visit Aoife Brennan here and Pantibar here

cougar diaries

 

This is what bankruptcy looks like…

This is what bankruptcy looks like…

 

€650 bankruptcy fee

€650 bankruptcy fee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I handed over €650 to The Insolvency Service of Ireland in order to go bankrupt. This is what the fee looks like: €650 in coins and some fivers and tens.

 

It could be worse. In recent weeks another client of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation (IMHO) handed over a cheque from Saint Vincent de Paul for the same purpose. Going bankrupt is not a pleasant action. It is not an easy action. For most people it is the end of the road. The bankrupt may claim it is a new beginning, but it is hard to form a new beginning when you don’t have anything or a job or an income to start over.

 

Bankruptcy is the end of the road. It is the elimination of debt. That is to be welcomed. But it should also be remembered that unlike the high rollers who take this route, who have pensions and salaries and multiple homes, there are many people like myself who have to scrape together the fee, who no longer own a home and who have no means of income except social welfare.

 

I welcome becoming a bankrupt, to calling a halt on my debt. However, it is not something that I would have aspired to as a teenager. I didn’t day dream that one day I could be a bankrupt and start all over again. It is a necessary evil.

 

In about ten days I should be in the High Court finding out if I am to be accepted as a bankrupt. I have waited a long time for this but it is one life event that I shall not be celebrating. I am pensive as I journey in this direction, hope intact but in short supply, eroded as it has been by the daily privations of encroaching debt. Even as I hope to undo my shackles, I am not sure what will replace them.

 

It is good to be free, but freedom like health, is better enjoyed with money than without.

 

Well, hello bankruptcy!

 

 

First Lines 2014

First Lines

New lines

Bare branches scratched a grey sky

Love is not enough

I was the evil twin

They would throw a party if they changed their knickers

She’s had so much plastic surgery she’d melt if she stood near a candle

I used to be an asshole but I’m alright now

The lady who fell as she walked

Cracking wings of pheasants, gun loud in the November air

The ginger prince

All roads lead south

I grew up with the smell of pine in my nostrils

Just as I reach Rose Cottage my coverage falls, every time, it’s the Bermuda spot in the village

I am an amoeba

Sorry I stole your life

We are seduced by the oily mendacity of the City

Sup smelly. Whas a crackakackin?

Even though people are the author of the own lives, they don’t always get dealt a fair hand at the start

You are never far from the ground

Where to begin?

Happy New Year!

ROOR1-212x300

Hoping to be Bankrupt for Christmas …

first printed in IrishCentral on December 14, 2013

jill in fur coatThe New York Times has thrown cold water onto the success story that is Ireland. It has challenged the public perception peddled by Irish politicians that we are the ‘good boy’ of Europe and that ‘austerity politics are serving us well’. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth and what is emerging today in Ireland is a two tier society with the those in control enjoying large pensions, fat salaries and ‘top-ups’ to their income, while the middle classes have largely been eradicated and along with the poor are faced with stealth taxes; taxes applied universally so that proportionately the less well-off are hit harder.

 

Emigration numbers are at famine levels, suicides now number two a day and some 40percent of all households have no disposal income at the beginning of each month.

 

I can personally attest to the direct impact of austerity on Ireland and I can see no light at the end of the tunnel.  Six years ago a perfect storm of divorce and recession left me with a mortgage of €1million on a house worth half that. I accumulated huge legal fees (my divorce lawyer for half the proceedings was the current Minister for Justice, then a serving TD) in the region of €100,000. My once successful business crumbled away under the strain and I had the unedifying and deeply upsetting visit from bailiffs to seize goods. I kept on thinking I could go no lower. I had moved out of the family home, a Georgian manor house once valued at €1.65million, four years ago into a rented two bedroom cottage with my two children.  My ex-husband returned to the UK and went bankrupt in the much more tolerant laws there. In a year he was cleansed of his debts. The upshot was that I in turn was responsible for the entire debt of €1million. I tried everything to recover but it was too much for me.  I made a video to sell the house in 2011 which went viral and I received a cash offer of €500,000 but the banks refused consent to sell. They preferred to repossess the house which they did in August of this year. It was sold two weeks ago for less than €160,000. Sadly under Irish law I am still liable for the debt despite the disposal of the underlying asset.

 

Struggling to find some way out, to try and regain my place in society again, I waited with eager interest to the new Insolvency Service launched in September 2013 to handle to debt time-bomb of middle Ireland. However, these new laws are clumsy and inefficient and moreover the banks have veto over any settlement. In an ever more bizarre turn, you have to be well off to enter the service. I am literally too broke to avail of the new laws – despite having pro bono representation from the debt advocacy group Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation (IMHO)

 

Last week new bankruptcy laws were introduced and I am again at the top of this queue. The new laws have reduced the duration of the bankruptcy period from 12 to three years and cut the fees in half. I am with IMHO tomorrow and hope that I can be bankrupt by Christmas. It is an ironic observation that I am looking forward to being bankrupt but I so want to try and start my life again. I have spent six years in financial wilderness and it is not pleasant.

 

What does it feel like to have debt that cannot be cleansed – waiting for the banks to engage or the government to bring in laws to help the struggling citizens? I liken it to dragging a stinking corpse of debt around with me. The debt fills my brain and I can think of little else. Everything is a struggle. It takes so much energy just to be, let alone to live. People say you can’t get blood from a stone, but I reply ‘try being that stone’.

 

I was filling in yet another set of forms today in preparation for my meeting tomorrow. I record my modest income and the miss-match with my outgoings. I list my assets – but I am not sure that a ten year old fridge freezer can be considered an asset. I list my debts but I am guessing now at the final amounts as interest has been piled on interest.  I tell myself I came into the world with nothing and I shall leave it in the same unencumbered fashion, but it would be nice to hang on to some possessions along the way.

 

Last winter we had no home heating fuel and the children watched television under duvets. We don’t eat out, I shop for groceries at the discount stores and holidays – let’s just say we don’t do holidays. But we are not alone. Death by the kitchen table is happening in households all over the country with parents unable to meet mortgages, pay the new taxes and even put food on the table.  In some ways I was lucky that I had moved out of my home into the rented cottage before it was repossessed. I cannot imagine the heartache of a sheriff evicting my family. When he came in August  to take my home I was far away in Dublin filming a documentary about sex (an appropriate contrast I thought at the time).

 

Ireland will survive but it won’t be because of the austerity policies. No one ever recovered an economy by breaking it further. Ireland will survive because we are an indomitable, creative maverick people. However, we are being let down so very badly by our leaders who refuse to call to account those who lead our country into debt,  who prop up the banks on all fronts and who cannot see or do not care about the thousands of families suffering from debt. It is ironic that our very own Beckett said “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail againFail better” as we are being punished by our own.

 

PS

I won’t make Christmas but I hope to be bankrupt in January :-)

 

HOPE

I sat with a wise woman once. She spoke about people who lose hope.  It might only be transitory but can prove fatal. It might be continuous and unrelenting and pernicious and prove fatal. It can be intermittent but still fatal. For the loss of hope to become permanent only requires that the person cannot see beyond that loss. But the wise woman also told me of an expression oft used in such hopeless situations. This too will pass.

This too will pass. That could be said of many things. Things that pass include seasons without fail, people who curtail, wishes that just derail, dreams that set sail and desires that never unveil.  Other things to pass are met with more welcome goodbyes, enmities that interrupt, wars that erupt, hate that volupts, cruelty that fillups and vile noxious views that corrupt. All things can pass and while some we may mourn, yet for others we may bless ourselves and walk on quickly, pleased that the gods have spared us for another day, another fight.

Knowing that things are transitory is our biggest defence against the loss of hope, ironically. It makes the beautiful more wonderful, special and wanted. It makes the darkest hour bearable. The hour before the dawn is the most dark but it is followed by the light, if we but stay.

Here is a lyric. Stay, just a little bit longer. This is the secret to surviving the loss of hope. Hanging about, even when hope is lost. Do not underestimate the devastation the loss of hope can wreck upon a person. Hanging about is very brave and much misunderstood. Just being can be so tough.

People say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I agree. But I say back to them, you have to take into account the collateral damage. It is not as though anyone can walk through life without getting a few scars but really serious injuries, the kind that will not kill you, can leave you maimed and changed.  It’s akin to the road traffic fatalities, often quoted in conjunction with suicides, where the numbers with life changing injuries are not counted.

What doesn’t kill you may make you stronger.  However, it may also kill bits of you, shed body parts with abandon, pieces of you that you might have preferred, given the choice, to hang on to. I think strangely of ears, flesh, breasts, fingers when I say this. Arbitrary but quite important body parts, parts you would not voluntarily give up, unless on that crass and horrible Saw Trilogy, but enough said there.

Having said all that, I must harken back to the film Calendar Girls. John Clarke, the character who died of cancer at the centre of the film, asked this to be read at the Women’s Institute.  “The flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire. Every stage of their growth has its own beauty, but the last phase is always the most glorious. Then very quickly they all go to seed.”

We need to embrace the changes that befall us, that we create, that our friends and family wrought upon us. We need to know that our beauty lies in our accepting those changes and calling them our own, living through them, and naming them as who we are. Even as childbirth marks a mother, we need to know that when we come past the delirium of birth, we can celebrate its effect upon us.

I think we need to know that this too will pass when hope is in very short supply, that staying a little bit longer, just hanging around can make a difference, and that while we are not killed, we may expect to lose bits, gain scars, and show our humanity. And then in the greatest triumph that humankind can offer, we can live despite all this, love in the midst of it, and comfort and support others in the same way of it. It is called the human condition and it is to be shared.

I believe I am more beautiful now for my scars than before, more beautiful for the changes in my body and mind than before. More courageous in my beliefs, more passionate in my views and more compassionate in my attempt to understand this world than before.

This is why I stay. This is why I know things will pass, good, bad and indifferent. This is why I know my blooming means different things to different people. That my love is only growing and my right to life on this planet is secured. And if I hit a loss of hope, that I know, this too will pass.

 

Poems to Pass the Day By: Repatriating the Donkeys

Repatriating the Donkeys

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There wasn’t even the sound of their hooves,

Unshod of course,

On the gravel path down to the stables.

The only warning was the dog yelping indoors

To be let out -

To welcome the visitors, or inspect them at least.

Soon as I opened the front door he scarpered down

But stopped some feet away.

They were unconcerned, little donkeys, on a visit.

 

Bringing them back to their home was harder:

They would not be caught, head shy.

They followed a bucket of meal, softly, as if unsure

Turning this way and that to explore green grass instead.

 

My youngest lead the way with the bucket,

The donkeys, three of them, behind.

All went well until we met the dogs down the road:

The barking terriers that ran a race inside their fence

For all passerbys and especially donkeys.

 

Donkeys would not pass by with such runners racing the fence

And barking as if the Lord himself was coming.

They always do that, although donkeys might be closer.

And it was nearly Christmas, so they had a point.

 

I brought up with rear with four feet of wavin pipe

Shaking it in the air, whooshing them along

Good dogs, good donkeys

But the dogs kept barking and the donkeys turned heel

I stood my ground but donkeys are stubborn.

 

It was a stalemate – a head to three heads.

Even with my wavin I could not cover the entire road

I waved my wavin, the dogs barking, the donkeys rushing at me and then back

 

My daughter shook the bucket again

Food over barking

Food over wavin

Food for little donkeys.

 

Obedient as if butter would not melt in the mouths

They turned and trotted after the bucket

Down the road, me in tow,

Wavin low.

We reached the open gate, cause of escape,

And they went back in: one, two, three.

I closed the gap and closed the gate in a bound.

 

Donkeys repatriated.

Just in time for Christmas.

 

By Jillian Godsil