The government continues to hide behind the banks instead of directly confronting the mortgage arrears crisis with a coordinated policy response, according to Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.

Deputy McGrath stated, “The press conference by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste today confirmed that the government continues to play second fiddle to the banks when it comes to dealing with the escalating mortgage arrears crisis. The government has ample evidence that the banks are not facing up to the mortgage crisis and yet the government is unable or unwilling to take the initiative. While the government sat on its hands, the rate of mortgage arrears increased by 60% during the year to March 2012.

“It has taken the government nine months to confirm that it would like to see some of the recommendations of the Keane report implemented. The Keane report recommended the establishment of an independent mortgage advice function last September, and it took until today for the government to signal that it intends to go ahead with this. I welcome the fact that this service is going to be set up but I would question why it is not being aligned to MABS where a great deal of expertise already exists.

“At a time when we need a coordinated government-led plan to deal with the mortgage arrears crisis, the coalition has delayed the Personal Insolvency Bill and has yet again passed the responsibility for dealing with the mortgage and personal debt crisis to the banks.”