Senator Marc MacSharry has today described as ‘reprehensible’ the decision of Government to instruct their Senators to reject the Family Home Bill 2011 before the Seanad debate has taken place.
It is understood that the Bill is aimed at giving legislative protection to many families faced with the prospect of losing their homes. But it is understood that Fine Gael and Labour Senators have been instructed to vote it down.
The legislation put forward by Senator Marc Mac Sharry and The Fianna Fáil Working Group on Mortgages and Personal Debt, which also includes Senator Thomas Byrne Michael McGrath TD, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has the backing of the Free Legal Aid Centre (FLAC) and the New Beginning group which has contacted all Senators asking for their support. New Beginning was set up by legal professionals, business people and concerned citizens to represent and defend mortgage holders. Independent Senator, Katherine Zappone, a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, has also voiced her support for the Bill.
Senator Mac Sharry commented: “It is an absolute disgrace that a non-adversarial Bill such as this would not be given a chance just because it is not the Fine Gael/Labour Government that is introducing it. It is an insult to democracy and a slap in the face for those who are in severe difficulty with their mortgages.
“This Bill provides legislative protection to families who are at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears. The proposals had the backing of all major interest groups in the area. But now the Government side of the House has been told to vote against it. We can only assume this is because it wasn’t their idea.
“With counterproductive moves like this, any talk of political reform from this Government is a joke. They are more concerned about cheap visuals than radical reforms such as lifting the whip on votes such as this which would help families in difficulty.
“In a week when people have been slapped with a new household tax, it would have been a small concession to facilitate the passage of this Bill which would at least protect the homes of families in need. This is a reprehensible decision by Government and there should be a full public explanation as to why it was taken.”