New Mortgage advice service of little use while government leaves banks with veto

In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD Finance spokesperson for People Before Profit/ULA has said the government’s recently announced panel of “independent” mortgage advisers will be of little use to distressed mortgage holders if the government does not amend its proposed Insolvency legislation to ensure protection of the family home and to remove the banks veto on debt settlement and personal insolvency arrangements.

Richard Boyd Barrett said: “The government fanfare about this new panel of mortgage advisers really is window dressing that will be of little help to distressed mortgage holders unless they insert specific protections for the family home into the new personal insolvency legislation. Crucially, the government must remove the veto they are planning to give the banks on debt settlement arrangements otherwise all the other measures are meaningless. There also needs to be a specific acknowledgement in the legislation of the banks responsibility for the property bubble between 2002 and 2008 and provisions for significant write-downs of mortgage debts incurred during this period. In short, the banks must be forced to pay for the reckless behaviour.

It is astonishing that we have an enormous mortgage and personal debt crisis that was caused almost entirely by the utterly reckless and greed-driven policies of the banks – a crisis affecting 160,000 mortgage holders – and yet the government intends to leave the banks with the final say on debt settlement arrangements in its new legislation.

The hollowness of the government’s proposals becomes all the more clear when we learn that the latest EU commission report on Ireland’s austerity programme as actually indicated that the banks should be given more power to re-possess family homes and assets in order to recover outstanding debt.

The recently drafted EU commission report states: “concerns remain with a legal gap that prevents banks from re-possessing collateral related to some mortgage loans.”

So, yet again, the government are dancing to the tune of the Troika when the Troika’s only concern is to protect the private banking system and billionaire bondholders.

This mortgage crisis is not just an issue that affects the 160,000 mortgage holders currently experiencing financial difficulty but it is also an enormous factor in crippling demand and the prospects for economic growth in our economy.

If the government is in any way serious about assisting distressed mortgage holders and dealing with this enormous problem in our economy they must radically amend the personal insolvency legislation, otherwise these proposals are just more blather.”