[Sinn Fein]

20 August 2000

New licensed money-lenders charging nearly 200 per cent interest ``Outrageous'' says new chairperson of Sinn Fein in Dublin

Sinn Fein has severely criticised the Director of Consumer Affairs for granting new licences this week to money-lenders charging interest rates of almost 200 per cent (APR).

The newly-elected chairperson of Sinn Fein in Dublin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, said:

``These money-lenders may be legal but they are totally unreasonable and no authority should give them a licence to exploit families in need. This is outrageous.''

Mr Ó Snodaigh was commenting on the new Money-lenders' Public Register (August 2000 to July 2001) which licensed 66 money-lenders, some charging 197 per cent (APR - Annual Percentage Rate) under licence from the Director of Consumer Affairs.

He urged families in financial difficulties and who have been turned down by the mainstream banks to approach their local community-based organisations for advice and assistance:

``There are community-based organisations motivated by social solidarity rather than crass commercial profit who are available to help people in debt.'' These organisations include local community networks, money advice and budget services and credit unions. Mr Ó Snodaigh said that both the community sector and commercial banking should address the problems ``that force low-income families into the high-interest arms of money-lenders''. He added:

``The Director of Consumer Affairs has allowed these bodies to capitalise on the vulnerable circumstances of the most financially insecure sections of our society. It is no coincidence that a concentration of the licences granted were to companies in working-class areas of Dublin.''

Arguing that money-lenders do not help people ``escape the clutches of poverty but exacerbate and prolong their problems'', Mr Ó Snodaigh said that Sinn Fein was calling on the Director of Consumer Affairs to stop issuing licences to agents charging ``exorbitant rates''.

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