Sinn Fein’s Malachy Quinn has called for action
Sinn Fein’s Malachy Quinn has called for action

Money lenders charging “disgraceful” interest rates are preying on the most vulnerable in Fingal and must be regulated, according to a local councillor.

Sinn Fein’s Malachy Quinn called for action to rein in the unscrupulous actions of licensed money lenders – as he warned against using black market loan sharks.

He was speaking after his party’s Private Members’ Bill which seeks to cap the annual interest charged on loans at 36% APR.

Cllr Quinn said: “In recent weeks, many families were turning to these companies to ensure that their families – in particular their children – had a special Christmas.

“Unfortunately, the huge interest charged by these organisations only helps drive people further and further into debt.”

He blasted revelations that one south Dublin company was granted a licence by the Central Bank in July allowing it to charge 287.72% APR interest, adding: “That is quite frankly disgusting.”

The Balbriggan/Skerries Cllr said research shows that those turning to money lenders are primarily women from working class backgrounds and lone parents.

He said: “The reality is that the companies charging these disgraceful interest rates are leeches.

They are preying on the most vulnerable in society to line their own pockets.” Noting that many other EU countries have caps on  interest rates that money lenders can charge, Cllr Quinn added: “We need to ensure that some controls are placed on these organisations who make profits off of people in desperate situations.”

“Over the last few years in my local clinics, I have spoken with parents who have engaged with these money lenders as a last resort due to financial pressures.”

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) has warned against using money lenders and urges those under financial strain to borrow from their local Credit Union.

Further information and advice is available from your local MABS office, at www.mabs.ie, or by calling the MABS helpline at 0761 07 2000.