Senator Thomas Byrne has described Bank of Ireland’s response to the mortgage crisis as “pitiful”, citing the bank’s revelation at the Oireachtas Finance Committee today that it has engaged with just 13 mortgage holders as part of the  Mortgage-to-Rent scheme as further evidence that the banks are not taking a proactive approach to the crisis.

Under questioning from Senator Byrne, Bank of Ireland executives confirmed the bank has sanctioned just ten Mortgage-to-Rent transactions and a further three are under consideration, exposing the Government’s flagship scheme as an abject failure.

Senator Byrne commented: “The scheme has previously been described as a ‘priority of the Government’ and one that would provide families with “continuity and security”.  In truth, the scheme is now exposed as a complete failure.

“With Bank of Ireland, which accounts for a large chunk of outstanding Irish mortgages, only dealing with just over a dozen families (not all of whom may end up on the scheme), it is clear that the Mortgage-to-Rent Scheme offers little or no hope for families and must be reviewed as a matter of urgency.  It exposes the Government’s inaction on its own Keane Report and highlights yet again that practically all of the protections in place for distressed borrowers such as the Code of Conduct for Mortgage Arrears dates back to the last Government.

“Time after time, this Government has taken the side of the banks over that of distressed borrowers.  Its Personal Insolvency Bill contains a bank veto, Mortgage Interest Relief has effectively been abolished and standard variable rates in Government-owned banks have been allowed to run amok.  Now we find the Mortgage-to-Rent scheme is little more than a public relations exercise.

“It is now time for the Government to take seriously the practical proposals that Fianna Fáil has tabled – including protecting the family home, operating a debt settlement office to remove the bank veto over insolvency solutions and the regulating debt management advisors.”