Government infighting on reducing the period of bankruptcy must not be allowed to delay action on the mortgage crisis, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath TD.
Deputy McGrath stated, “For weeks now, we have had endless speculation about the government coming forward with a ‘package of measures’ to deal with the mortgage arrears crisis and the very low number of cases being dealt with by the Insolvency Service. It now appears that the promised ‘package of measures’ is being delayed by an ongoing row in government over the proposal to reduce the discharge period from bankruptcy to one year.
“The government must not allow any internal dispute about bankruptcy to delay action for people struggling with debt. According to media leaks, the government looks set to do a major U-turn and will allow a Court to impose a solution in a mortgage arrears situation. Fianna Fáil has been advocating this change over a prolonged period of time and we look forward to seeing the details. Hopefully the penny is finally beginning to drop with the government that they have given the banks too much power.
“The government has finally awoken to the plight of variable rate mortgage customers – an issue Fianna Fáil has been highlighting for some time. I read with interest reports over the weekend that the government might increase the bank levy if the banks don’t start ‘playing ball’ on variable rates. In doing so, the government should be aware of the risk that the banks will actually increase variable rates to make up for any loss from an increased levy. I have long argued that the Central Bank needs to step up to the mark and start fulfilling its consumer protection role in the interests of 300,000 variable rate customers currently being ripped off by the banks.”