Sunday 18 August 2019

Government accused of giving 'only tea and sympathy' to families at risk of losing homes

Sinn Fein deputy President Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein deputy President Mary Lou McDonald

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

THE Government has been accused of giving "only tea and sympathy" to families at risk of losing their homes.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said many families across the State are facing eviction and that the Government's response to the issue has been inadequate.

The issue of housing and repossessions was debated during Thursday's 'Leaders' Questions.

Ms McDonald said thousands of families across the country are "living in fear of losing their homes" and are "now being dragged through the courts by their lenders".

"These are the very same banks who were bailed out by the taxpayer," she added.

Some 7,100 families had court proceedings lodged against them last year, the Dublin Central TD said.

She added that hundreds of fresh court actions are being lodged against families every month.

Ms McDonald said recent legislation passed by the Government has made it easier for banks to evict people from their homes.

In response to the criticism, Tanaiste Joan Burton said the Government is determined to see the issue of debt facing families resolved.

"People have to move forward with their lives and I understand the worry and stress facing people when they have big mortgage debt in relation to their homes," Ms Burton said.

She said that a new mentoring system being rolled out by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service will provide greater assistance to families during the court process.

Ms Burton said there is a "small but welcome fall" in the actions before the courts and that 90-100 cases before the courts are struck out or rescinded on a monthly basis.

The Labour Party leader urged families in difficulties to engage with their lenders, adding that courts are dealing with cases in a "very thoughtful and very careful manner".

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