Fianna Fáil is calling for changes to be made to the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears which have removed key protections for borrowers and given unjustified additional power to the banks.
Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin and Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath launched the party’s Private Members’ Motion on the mortgage crisis at Leinster House today. The motion will be debated this evening and tomorrow evening.
Deputy McGrath commented: “We are now dealing with a situation where the banks now have all the powers they have been seeking and the revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears and the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Targets. When taken together these essentially represent a charter for family home repossessions. Repossession is no longer being seen as the last resort but is now the solution of choice for the banks in many cases.
“The Government is entirely complicit in this and has bowed to the banks and have created the environment for them to become more aggressive. The banks actually feel emboldened by the powers and the support they have been given by the government and the Central Bank. For instance the banks now are required to offer sustainable solutions but the banks themselves are allowed to determine what ‘sustainable’ is.
“To date, of 142,000 mortgage cases in arrears only 144 split mortgages had been put in place by the end of March 2013. There is growing evidence of banks taking a harder line now that they can make unlimited contact with borrowers. In order to solve this crisis the power of the banks has to be broken, either through an independent mortgage resolution office as we have proposed or by legislation that mandates what offers banks must make in certain circumstances.
“We know from figures from the Central Bank that an average of 250 mortgages a week are falling into arrears. This is not merely a banking problem but a major public policy problem that is having a major economic impact for families and for the country must be addressed by government.
“Fianna Fáil has consistently brought forward policies to strengthen the hand of the borrower in dealing with banks and at every turn the Government has made it more difficult for people in arrears. Until there is a realistic and proactive approach from Government this crisis will continue to dominate the economy and be a strain on thousands of families across the country.”