Teachta Doherty said:
“Financial challenges – particular at this time of year with increasing back to school costs – means that that many families are often forced to resort to borrowing money to make ends meet; from banks, from friends, from family members or from Credit Unions.
“For some people, that is not an option and they must resort to borrowing money from moneylenders and loan sharks, who in many cases are unlicensed and charge punitive and quite frankly disgusting interest rates. Currently, even licensed moneylenders are permitted to charge 187% interest by the Central Bank and when collection charges are added in that rises to 287% APR.
“It is now over seven months since a Bill I introduced to cap interest rates at 36% was passed by the Dáil. That Bill is the vehicle to bring an end to these exorbitant interest rates, but it needs political will to make it a reality. I don’t believe the government’s consultation will tell us anything we didn’t already know – the message from those working at the coalface with struggling people is that we need a cap.
“This affects an estimated 330,000 people who are forced to borrow from moneylenders – 7% of the entire population of the State.
“I am disappointed that the suggestion I put forward – of combining my Bill and the Minister for Finance’s Bill to adjust the rates that Credit Unions can charge – was rejected by him. I am very open to these two Bills being merged in the interests of securing a cap, with viable alternatives, for families as soon as possible.
“It is high time the government acted on this issue and moved urgently to cap the interest rates that licensed moneylenders are permitted to charge. With the necessary political will, there is no reason why legislation can’t be place to ensure this Christmas is a moneylender free one for many families.”