Kildare South Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl has confirmed the party’s Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath will attend a public information meeting on Mortgage Debt, Personal Debt and the Stability Treaty. 

Deputy Ó Fearghaíl said: “I am delighted to confirm this meeting will go ahead tomorrow.  There are very serious issues facing the public at the moment, particularly those in mortgage debt and difficulty with other debts.  Fianna Fáil has brought forward a number of initiatives over the past year, urging the Government to be more proactive in dealing with the mortgage crisis which is having a major effect on the domestic economy but also on the physical and mental wellbeing of people in difficulty. 

“My party colleague, Michael McGrath, who has been to the fore in highlighting what can be done to help people in arrears with the mortgages and finding it difficult to engage banks will be available to take questions but also to hear directly from people the experiences they have had and are going through.”  

“Other speakers on the night will be the son of the late President Hillery, Dr John Hillery, who is a consultant psychiatrist by profession and also a former President of the Irish Medical Council.  Dr Hillery will address the impact that debt has on individuals and families and how to deal with the issues that arise as a result. There will also be representatives from Citizens Information, Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), the Irish Banking Federation and the Irish League of Credit Unions on hand to provide information and advice in a private and confidential manner.” 

Speaking ahead of the meeting Deputy Michael McGrath said: “At the end of March 2011, the mortgage arrears rate was 6.3%. The figure for the end of March 2012 is expected to exceed 10% – representing an increase of 60% in just twelve months. The acceleration in the mortgage arrears crisis over the past twelve months has not been matched by Government action.  In fact, the uncertainty surrounding the Government response has contributed to the worsening situation. 

“The figures due to be published are expected to show that around 80,000 borrowers are more than three months in arrears. Another 35,000 or so borrowers have restructured their mortgages and are not in arrears. These figures do not include thousands of other borrowers who are in arrears of less than 90 days. All in all, this is a full blown crisis and requires a decisive and concerted policy response from Government. 

“The Government has already delayed the publication of the Personal Insolvency Bill and it now seems likely the new debt settlement system will not be up and running until 2013. Fianna Fáil’s bill to establish a non-judicial debt settlement system dealing with mortgage debt and other forms of personal debt passed second stage in Dáil Éireann last October but unfortunately the Government has not moved on it since. 

“I look forward to meeting people in Kildare this week to hear their experiences and suggestions for dealing with this crisis and we will continue to highlight the need for urgent action,” concluded Deputy McGrath.