I would like to raise the plight of a cohort of people in this city and this State. We have not heard about them for many months. They are being overlooked because they are ordinary working-class people who do not have the resources to hire expensive lawyers or make large donations to the political establishment. Between 2,000 and 3,000 families and individuals were badly burned when a bills payment company, Home Payments Limited, went into liquidation last August. The Tánaiste may be aware of people with low or medium-sized incomes who made regular payments to this company so they would have funds in readiness to pay their routine utility bills, such as those for gas and electricity, on time. Some families used the company to save for future costs like children's schoolbooks and uniforms, the costs associated with their children going to college, or the cost of medical and dental treatment. At this time of the year, it is worth remembering that many families used Home Payments Limited as a savings bank to budget for Christmas-related expenditure.
The families and individuals who have been badly burned by the collapse of this company have lost hundreds or thousands of euro — up to €10,000, in some cases. Such a loss would not be noticed by former Ministers who receive pensions of €150,000 a year, or serving bankers who are paid €500,000 a year. It is an absolute fortune for an ordinary family, however, as it represents a huge saving and sacrifice. Ordinary people have been burned because this company scandalously succumbed to the siren call of the property market and speculated in it. They will lose much of what they had on deposit because the company is in liquidation. I have been told by the liquidator that there will not be a settlement until well into next year, if at all. Even though it was not required to do so, four weeks ago the Government gave €700 million to speculators in Anglo Irish Bank to make good their bad debts. With three weeks to go to Christmas, will the Government establish an emergency compensation fund for the victims of this company? The Tánaiste is aware that the State has quite rightly compensated the victims of floods and storms, etc., in the past. This collapse of this company is as much of a blow to these individuals and families as a storm or a flood. Will the Government establish an emergency fund now to ensure these people do not suffer unduly this Christmas?