Banks need to realise there is no blood in a stone

Published 04/04/2013 | 05:26

DEPUTY Michael Moynihan told the Dáil that the banks need to realise that no matter how much pressure they put on people in mortgage arrears they will not be able to get blood from a stone.

He warned the banks that there needs to be meaningful engagement to find a resolution to this issue. Speaking on a Fianna Fáil motion on mortgage arrears, Deputy Moynihan said the main issues that come across the desk of public representatives were people who were facing difficulty and stress, both in economic, mental and physical terms, because of mortgage arrears.

"We get this line that the banks are dealing with individual cases under the new regulations but they are not. I can cite cases going back two or three years where we have been trying to come to an accommodation with the banks, for example, where mortgages were given out to people whose only income at the time was an invalidity pension. Such people are being communicated with by the banks once, twice and, in one case, three times a week in regard to their difficulties," said Moynihan.

"They have gone through the Money Advice and Budgeting Service to try to find a resolution but no matter what agency of the State might add, subtract, multiply or divide the figures, the stark reality is that the debt they have on their shoulders is unsustainable," maintained Deputy Moynihan.

There has to be a meaningful engagement with the banks to find a resolution to this issue, he urged. There are families with up to five school-going children who started out with two incomes but now only have one income.

In one instance, parents with three children started out with only one income but were given a huge mortgage. That debt is still on them despite the house being in huge negative equity, but it is their home.

Collins calls for mortgage arrears to be dealt with urgently

FINE Gael deputy Áine Collins called for the mortgage arrears crisis to be dealt with urgently both for the sake of mortgage holders and their families and for the good of the economy.

Banks should realise that the quicker the crisis is resolved, the sooner we can return to a normal economy where the population as a whole feels secure. People must return to feeling confident that they can meet their obligations under new arrangements agreed with the banks, she urged.

A benchmark or 35% of one's income should be used to pay a mortgage. People should then have the choice as to how they spend the balance, suggested Deputy Collins.

The constant talk about mortgage arrears along with recent speculation about guidelines on lifestyle choices that may be imposed on those seeking insolvency arrangements is terrifying for the people who are facing this reality, she claimed.

"The banks ruined the future of a generation, wiped out their shareholders and destroyed the economy. I accept that in these circumstances many people are sceptical and in fear about their ability to solve this problem in a reasonable way," said Deputy Collins.

"We can be sure of one thing; namely, that bankers will be bankers and they will behave in a way that restores their profitability. For this to happen, the economy must recover. It cannot and will not recover without resolving the mortgage crisis.

"Not only is it affecting those people in mortgage arrears, it is also affecting the willingness to spend in the real economy of those who have savings and income," warned Deputy Collins.

The Cork North-West Deputy went on to say that constant talk of unaffordable lifestyle choices creates a fear of spending across the whole population. "If we continue along this road, there will be no recovery in the real economy, no increase in retail sales and no opportunities for employment.

"We can now depend on the banks to act in a way that will benefit themselves. They must realise that unless the economy recovers, they themselves will never recover. For the sake of us all and for the sake of the future of banking itself, these problems must be resolved quickly," she cautioned.

Disabled people more at risk due to govt policies, claims McLellan

SINN Féin Deputy Sandra McLellan claimed in the Dáil that disabled people are now more at risk of falling into consistent poverty because of Government policies.

Speaking during a debate on disability services, she said she was not suggesting this diverse group ever had things easy to begin with.

"I have no wish to engage in a bleeding heart rant about all the different areas of society where disabled people are under-represented or excluded," she said. "Suffice to say, that on all the key indicators ... people with a disability experience higher levels of exclusion than those in the general population."

Corkman

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