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absolute misery Councillor says illegal money lenders waiting outside post offices is becoming 'huge issue'

'Some of these people have fallen behind on their rents...There are huge issues here'

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Vulnerable people are being targeted outside post offices by illegal money lenders, a Sinn Féin councillor in Co Louth has said.

The “huge issue” of money lenders and loan sharks was highlighted by Cllr Kevin Meenan at the most recent meeting of Dundalk’s Joint Policing Committee.

He said that he noticed that the practice had become more frequent over the past year, particularly over the festive period in December, and said that illegal lenders have been waiting for people to collect their social welfare payments, which they make them hand over immediately.

Cllr Meenan added that the lenders are charging exorbitant interest rates, with those who miss a repayment having their bills doubled or even trebled in some cases.

“Particularly over Christmas time we dealt with a lot of people who had issues in terms of paying back money lenders. The money would have been taken off them,” he explained.

“The State Management team at the Council has been excellent in terms of working with these people. Some of these people have fallen behind on their rents. There are huge issues here.”

He said the practice was creating “absolute misery” and one of “the most disgusting things I’ve come across personally.”

He told the meeting how he has often had to collaborate with the local St Vincent de Paul society to help victims of illegal money lenders out where possible.

Some of these people didn’t have enough money to buy food or pay their heating or electricity bills, Cllr Meenan said.

He also calling on both the local gardaí and Louth County Council to find solutions to the issue.

In response, Chief Superintendent Alan McGovern encouraged anyone with information regarding illegal money lending to contact gardaí.

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“Money lenders must have a licence, there’s no grey areas there. I would advise people who are in need of financial support to have a look at MABS (the Money Advice and Budgeting Service), which are a free and confidential service,” he said.

“But if they have any concern around payment or the potential for illegal money laundering, they should contact us immediately. We will give them confidential support in that.”

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