They’re still celebrating on Ormeau Avenue in Belfast after winning a BAFTA on Sunday for their powerful documentary “Shame of the Catholic Church” broadcast under the “This World” strand, this comes after winning an IFTA last year for the BBC Spotlight special on tracing the Quinn family assets around the globe. The Spotlight on the horse meat scandal this year was probably the best investigation that we saw, and a couple of weeks later, the Department of Agriculture withdrew a license from one of the meat companies featured.Tonight promises us another cracker – this time on the personal debt crisis and debt forgiveness. It will be on at 22.35 this evening for 30 minutes on BBC Northern Ireland. You should then be able to catch it on BBC iPlayer but if you’re watching online from the Republic or outside the UK, you will need fool the BBC into thinking your PC is in the UK, and you can do that with so-called proxy masking software, this one is recommended for general use.
The programme was previewed on Northern Ireland radio this morning, and it seems we are set to learn from presenter Ciaran Tracey that in Northern Ireland, which has a population of just 1.8m people, a total of GBP 1.7m (€2bn) was written off as a result of bankruptcies in 2011 and 2012. Yes, €2bn. Pro-rataed for our 4.7m population that would equate to €5.2bn over two years and remember we have a huge pent-up demand for resolving our personal debts. It seems that some 3,200 people in Northern Ireland filed for bankruptcy last year. Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter thinks that we will have 3,000 bankruptcies in the first 12 months of operation of the new Personal Insolvency Act from July this year.
The programme will also feature contributions from Nick Leeson, new recruit to debt advice company, GDP and best known to us for the thankless task of managing Galway United Football Club, though the rest of the world might know him better as the man who brought down Barings Bank in the 1990s. Nick’s company is helping the indebted deal with creditors, mostly banks, and it seems that debt deals are being done.
Almost as a footnote, despite its relevance to NAMA, the programme also has a contribution from the Northern Ireland Minister for Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson who criticizes the banks, Ulster Bank in particular, for not lending to businesses and he calls for a bad bank, a NAMA in fact in his own words, to be established to acquire Ulster Bank’s bad loans, so that the bank can return to its core business of lending.
It promises to be a cracker. 22.35 BBC Northern Ireland.