Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne has welcomed the decision to remove the controversial bank veto on personal insolvencies. Senator Byrne, who is the Fianna Fáil General Election candidate in Meath East, says the decision is long overdue.

The bank veto was introduced by the Government in 2012 despite warnings from Fianna Fáil and Senator Byrne in particular that it would lead to the banks refusing to restructure mortgages for those in financial difficulty.

Senator Byrne commented, “This week the Seanad voted on the Personal Insolvency Amendment Act to remove the veto that the banks currently have on the restructuring of mortgages. I was happy to have the opportunity to support this move. I identified the bank veto when the Government first passed insolvency laws in 2012. At the time I highlighted how it would negatively impact on those who are in financial difficulty and need to restructure their mortgages as a result.

“It is disappointing that it took the Government three years to realise how the presence of a bank veto was fundamentally flawed. The Government until very recently consistently denied the existence of a problem in relation to how banks are allowed drive the pace of restructuring mortgages. A considerable amount of unnecessary distress has been heaped on families as a result the failure to address this issue when it was first identified.

“Removing the bank veto is in itself not enough to deal with the ongoing mortgage crisis, but it is a starting point. Fianna Fáil has put forward a package of measures to comprehensively address the cause of arrears and to deal with a situation where a family has fallen behind on the mortgage. These proposals include a commitment to tackle high standard variable rates, legislate to ensure consistency across the banks in how they address mortgage arrears and an overhaul of the Mortgage to Rent scheme for unsustainable mortgages.”