On RTE Drivetime last night, Jim Stafford, an insolvency practitioner said in answer to a listener question:
Well, under the legislation the [Personal Insolvency Practitioner] is to try and keep the family in their family home if at all possible. The PIP will have to assess the existing mortgage on the family home, if it’s a modest house, if it’s a trophy house.
In practice, the PIP will also have to assess the type of house that might be needed for a professional person such as a solicitor, accountant or a hospital consultant as opposed to a house that’s needed by someone who is in the PAYE sector for example, so that, as a PIP, I would be making a very strong case, for example, that a solicitor should have a bigger house that accords with his professional status in society so that his neighbours and clients can see that, yes, this person is a good solicitor who’s is living in a good house etc. etc.
Don’t believe me? Listen here from about 6:35 in.
It was incredulous. I wrote the below comments on it (including the update) just a short while ago, but, as I typed, Jim posted an apology (copied below) on Friel Stafford‘s website:
I would like to acknowledge and sincerely apologise for the hurt and distress that my comments to RTE have undoubtedly caused.
Simply it was not my intention to offend.
In particular, it was not my intention to create a distinction between so called professional classes and PAYE workers nor appear to further the causes of a particular debtor type.
I believe that every person has a passionate concern to retain their family home.
I fully appreciate the distress that financial difficulties cause any one, no matter what their financial circumstances may be.
I fully and unreservedly apologise for my comments.
I’ve left my original comments below also. Why? Primarily because I’m not sure I fully accept or believe the apology. He may very well have being acting as a PIP should – in full defense of his clients to get the best possible outcome. Or he may actually believe what he said. Or he may truly have misrepresented himself in the glare of a live radio studio.
Either way, as you can hear in the interview, when pushed he reinforced those original remarks. I don’t want to dance on Jim’s misfortune here, but it is still a great example of a segment of Irish society.
Charlie Weston of the Irish Independent also writes The message is clear: plebs need not apply for service.
Are these so called professionals more entitled to a large home that they can no longer afford than someone in the PAYE sector?
Is this just another example of the kind of shite that goes on far too often in this country? One self-appointed professional looking out for those that he considers his peers? If so, it’ll be at the (literal) cost of the tax paid by those in the PAYE sector.
Official Ireland with its head up its own ass – par for the course really.
This has subsequently been covered in a number of media outlets:
- ‘A solicitor should have a bigger house than a PAYE worker… even if insolvent’, Irish Independant.
- Insolvent professionals not allowed ‘trophy homes’ – ISI, The Irish Times.
In the latter article, Mr Stafford admitted to being clumsy with his choice of words but said it was “impossible to talk about all of the complexities of personal bankruptcy in a 10 minute radio interview”.
It should be noted however, in the radio interview, he was pressed by the interviewer, Mary Wilson, on his comments and he said “Absolutely. The same as for hospital consultants, people like that… Despite the fact that he’s insolvent, because remember, if we want the solicitor to continue to earn money or the accountant or the hospital consultant it’s important that he has his tools of trade for example.”
It’s pretty hard to misinterpret those sentiments.