Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has said the key fact to emerge from this week’s Oireachtas Finance committee hearings with the banks is their extraordinary reliance on legal action to repossess homes to achieve the mortgage arrears resolution targets set for them by the government and Central Bank.

Speaking at the conclusion on three days of committee hearings with AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB, Deputy McGrath said, “It became abundantly clear during the committee hearings that the banks are heavily relying on voluntary surrender, threatening letters and legal proceedings for forced repossession to achieve the mortgage arrears resolution targets set last March. The fault for this lies with the government and the Central Bank for allowing the taking of the family home to be classified as a ‘sustainable solution’.

Deputy McGrath said, “The following facts which emerged during the past three days is proof of the astonishing reliance the banks are placing on repossession of the home to achieve the targets:

  • AIB – 74% of their ‘solutions’ involve the threat of legal action to repossess the home or its voluntary sale by the homeowner
  • Bank of Ireland – 49% of their ‘solutions’ involve the commencement of legal proceedings to repossess the home
  • Ulster Bank – 80% of their ‘solutions’ for owner occupiers in arrears is the commencement of legal action to repossess the home
  • Permanent TSB – 36% of their ‘solutions’ are voluntary sale by the homeowner or legal proceedings

“When the government and Central Bank announced the mortgage arrears resolution targets in a blaze of publicity last March, there was a belief that decisive action was finally going to be taken to provide long term solutions to those in mortgage arrears. Instead, the approach of the banks has made a mockery of the process. They have run rings around the Central Bank and government who are both culpable for not providing a clear definition of what constitutes a sustainable solution to a person’s mortgage distress.

“The Governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan is due to appear before the Finance Committee towards the end of this month. I do not believe we can afford to wait that long before action is taken. Quite incredibly, the Central Bank has not even commenced the process of independently verifying the banks’ claims on achieving their end of June mortgage targets. We need urgent intervention from the Central Bank to provide a clear definition of a sustainable solution and we need to hear from the Governor and indeed the Minister for Finance whether they are satisfied with the manner in which the banks claim to have achieved the targets.”