Wednesday 20 September 2017

Michael Noonan defends comments from Finance Department’s John Moran about ‘low level’ of repossessions

By Kathryn Hayes

THE MINISTER of Finance Michael Noonan has defended controversial comments made by the most senior official in the Department of Finance about people in mortgage arrears.

John Moran, Secretary General at the Department of Finance, told the Public Accounts Committee last week that there is an “unnaturally low level of repossessions” of houses in Ireland, which drew criticism from many.

However, speaking in Limerick today Michael Noonan insisted Mr Moran is legally obliged to “tell it as it is”.

The rate of repossession in Ireland is 0.25pc compared with 3pc in the UK.

When asked today if he shared the view of some of his party colleagues who described Mr Moran’s  comments as insensitive to those in serious financial difficulty, Minister Noonan said he had been obliged to answer as he did. 

“John was in the Public Accounts Committee as Accounting officer and he is legally obliged under the law and under the Constitution to tell it as it is and he is supposed to answer the questions put to him by deputies honestly and in a straight forward manner,” said the Minister.

“He did that and he made it quite clear that he didn’t see on the personal mortgage side a lot of repossessions, very few. But he said we have very low levels of repossessions at the moment if you make international comparisons. “

Minister Noonan said he was “absolutely” insisting the banks would do more to accommodate people in severe difficulties.

The Minister for Finance made his comments at the official opening of Barrington’s MRI Centre in Limerick city which was recently completed following investments of over €2.5m.

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