Mortgage debt deals are step in right direction
Published 30/05/2014 | 02:30
News that Permanent TSB is writing off debt for some borrowers in arrears deserves a cautious welcome. Deals like the ones revealed in today's Irish Independent must be part of a solution to the debt problems that beset this country. It goes without saying that not everybody can, or should, walk away from their home forever. Not everybody can, or should, be allowed to have all their remaining debts erased. But in some cases, this is the sensible solution.
The alternatives for many will be decades of penury.
The fact that both Permanent TSB and borrowers lose out also reflects the reality that both are to blame.
Banks should not have lent as much as they did and home buyers should not have borrowed as much as they did.
It also offers people a route out of debt that does not involve bankruptcy or personal insolvency deals, which have proved unduly expensive and often unrealistically onerous.
While deals like this can help individuals, we can never lose sight of the fact that they are underwritten by the taxpayer. Permanent TSB is effectively owned by the State and it remains vital that the bailed-out bank does not cost us any more money.
While the principle is good in some cases, there are question marks over the execution.
David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, who has been a sensible and humane voice at times during the financial crisis, complains that Permanent TSB is using high-pressure tactics to strike deals and force people to tap family members for cash.
It would be a serious matter if a State-owned bank is really imposing a 48-hour time limit on agreeing deals. The bank denies the claims.
High pressure tactics aside, this is a step in the right direction.
Violence against women must not be tolerated
RECENT days have been a tragedy for global efforts to eliminate violence against women. In northern India, two teenage girls found hanging from a tree in a village were the victims of a gang rape. In Sudan, a woman on death row for marrying a Christian gave birth in chains in prison, a last act of mercy before she is hanged.
In Pakistan, a pregnant woman was stoned and beaten to death by her family, a barbaric act carried out allegedly in the presence of police.
And in California, a young man embarked on a shooting spree after seeking "retribution" against women whom he said sexually rejected him.
The mass murder committed by British-born Elliot Rodger sparked an unprecedented international debate about gender-based violence, with thousands of Irish women testifying to their experiences under the #yesallwomen and #notallmen hashtags on social media.
Ireland, despite our religious and cultural freedoms, is no stranger to gender-based violence.
Yesterday, a Cork man was jailed for life for murdering a mother of three he had "been an item with" for a mere matter of months.
Darren Murphy stabbed Olivia Dunlea six times before setting fire to her house and she was alive when the fire started.
Ms Dunlea is not alone.
A recent EU-wide survey revealed that 26pc of Irish women – or 394,325 women – have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.
Our response to violence against women must be transformed. It should not require a litany of horrific stories for us to recognise that this is a global problem that requires a change of attitudes and a pro-active, meaningful response.