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Saturday 18 January 2020

Kenny admits State has failed to ease mortgage crisis

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny admitted yesterday that his Government has failed to provide enough help to struggling mortgage holders during its first year in office.

It came as he launched the first-year progress report -- which did not contain any assessment of how his ministers are performing.

Mr Kenny said a temporary cabinet sub-committee has been set up this week to deal with the distressed mortgages issue.

The 44-page progress report highlighted the fact that personal insolvency legislation to help people who can never pay off their mortgages is still awaited.

But the focus was more on government achievements such as extra mortgage-interest relief for the negative-equity generation, the €10bn reduction in the interest bill on our bailout loans, the reversal of the €1 minimum wage cut and the €4m saved on ministerial car costs.

Mr Kenny said the burden of the bank bailout was still "too onerous" on taxpayers -- as his report confirmed that the promise to impose losses on unguaranteed senior bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank had not been met. He said that another disappointment was the failure to get rid of upward-only rent reviews.

"Constitutionally it didn't prove to be that way without having massive taxpayer compensation for landlords," he said.

Mr Kenny said that yesterday's publication was not the "report cards" into the performance of individual ministers -- which he had promised on RTE's 'Late Late Show' last year.

Appraisal

He said he had a "face-to-face" meeting with every senior and junior minister before the publication of this "honest appraisal" of the Government's performance.

"The people will be the judge of the 'A class' in due course at the end of five years," he said.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Government had made progress in its first year in office after taking over in "horrific circumstances" but was not going to exaggerate it.

"We know full well the extent of what we have to do and we know full well the difficulties people are having," he said.

He said that relations between Labour and Fine Gael were warmer than they had been since they had been "knocking lumps" out of each other during the general election campaign.

Sinn Fein health spokesman Caoimhghin O Caolain pointed out yesterday that the report made no specific mention of the €750m in health budget cutbacks or the 4,200 health service staff who had retired early last month.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said there was a lot of PR and spin in the report -- and said the true measure was the number of people unemployed.

"The harsh reality is that the number of people at work has fallen by 15,000 in the past year," he said.

Irish Independent

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