Time for the banks to give something back
Published 22/05/2015 | 02:30
Finance Minister Michael Noonan was given a huge task when he took up his post, with our economy in ruins and unemployment at a record high. He did not flinch in his role and thanks to the enormous sacrifice of the people of this country, our recovery has been recognised globally as a success story.
Despite the news that unemployment is back at 10pc, many have not felt the benefits of the upturn and are in desperate need of some relief.
Let us not forget that the banks were a major cause in the collapse. The public were asked to pick up the tab for their spectacular failure and they did. We do not need to revisit the chain of disasters that brought us to the edge of ruin, but there is no discounting or denying the role played by the banks.
Billions were spent on their rescue, and now that the tide is turning in their favour, instead of seeking to give something back they are locked in a battle of wills with Mr Noonan, refusing to budge on the outrageous interest rates they are charging.
Mr Noonan has signalled his intent to get a fairer deal for mortgage holders. It is time to stand and deliver.
At every turn in the road since the crash, when it came to deciding on the interests of the bankers or those of the customers, the financial institutions have won out.
Mr Noonan has repeatedly resolved to take on the main banks in a bid to pressurise them to cut what are rightly regarded as "exploitative" rates on variables.
We've waited long enough.
This not-so-merry dance has to end. If legislation is required to make the banks change their tune then it's time to get on with it.
Whether the Central Bank gets new powers or exercises old ones more aggressively is of limited concern - all that really matters is that hard-pressed homeowners get a fair deal, and Mr Noonan owes them no less.
Debate has shown we have made progress
Society is a work in progress, and anyone who has been observing the marriage-equality campaign can not deny that progress has been made in creating a better understanding of all our relationships.
There was an energy and level of engagement that asked searching questions and challenged old positions. The process of democracy demands no less, and the more people who cast their vote today, the stronger and more durable that process becomes.
The freedom to express every aspect of one's identity is paramount, and the right to hold and challenge positions is part and parcel of a civilised community.
So whatever the outcome of today's referendums, we should be grateful to all those who participated and gave their time and energy to putting forth their side of the argument.
At other times, such expression was either suppressed or frowned upon. Thankfully, and not before our time, we have moved on.
The Constitution is a framework of rights and as such it carries power, but it too is there to serve and help us find consensus and accord. Where there are gaps, or where revisions are deemed necessary, then it should be revisited by the people, and the more people engage with this, the more robust and representative it will become.
There are people all over the world today who do not have a voice in their country, those of us who have one have a responsibility to use it.