FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan yesterday promised that the Government will act swiftly to deal with the mortgage-debt crisis -- but insisted the solution will not be a "big pool of money in substitute for the lottery".
The comments came as Mr Noonan insisted it was "not realistic" to expect the Government to sanction universal "debt forgiveness" for borrowers who bought at the peak of the market or have run into trouble with their mortgages.
At a meeting of the Finance Committee yesterday, Mr Noonan repeatedly stressed that he would not second-guess the work of an interdepartmental group due to report on solutions to the mortgage crisis at the end of September.
But he categorically ruled out any role for universal debt forgiveness, insisting it was "not possible" and that "nobody should think there's going to be some big pool of money to be handed out as a substitute for the lottery".
"You don't want to open the floodgates for people who don't need assistance, who see this as an opportunity to have their debt written off," he said, pointing to the need for carefully targeted solutions.
Mr Noonan also used the appearance to reject claims that the Government would not act on the mortgage crisis until after the December Budget.
The minister will consider the new report at the end of September and bring it to Government the "next week", he said.
He refused to be drawn into speculating on when exactly any new measures could come into action, but insisted that the Government "recognises the urgency of the situation".
"This is a huge burden on people who bought at the top of the market and they were seduced and coaxed to take out mortgages they now can't afford, or they can afford but leaves them in negative equity," he said. "It's not fair."
But he insisted Ireland was mainly to blame for the plight of these homeowners.
"It's not fair to be saying that there are some kind of evil geniuses out there somewhere in Europe who induced Irish people to get into the property market," he said. "Most of this was done by ourselves."