Sunday 21 January 2018

Govt is working with Central Bank on mortgage arrears crisis - Noonan tells Dail

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan

John Downing, Political Correspondent

THE mortgage arrears crisis is one of the harshest consequences of the economic crisis since 2008, Finance Minister Michael Noonan conceded today.

But the Minister insisted that the Government was now working with the Central Bank on efforts to deal with the problem and progress was being made.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin told the Dail that up 13,000 threatening letters had been sent to people with mortgage problems talking of potential re-possession of homes. "The issue is facing thousands and thousands of families and it is paralysing their lives," Mr Martin said.

Mr Noonan conceded that the general issue of debt and mortgage arrears posed problems on several levels.

"It's a difficult situation and it's a drag and an inhibition on the economy as well because these people cannot participate fully," Mr Noonan said.

But the Finance Minister also accused Mr Martin of exaggerating the issue. He said the 13,000 letters from lenders were an effort to get people to engage with the system - not necessarily eviction threats.

Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said senior bankers' lavish salaries were in contrast with the plight of families struggling to pay mortgages.

He said the Bank of Ireland boss, Richie Boucher, was on a €840,000 per-year salary package and the Government should use its share-holding to vote for change in this at the bank's AGM in a fortnight's time.

Mr Noonan said the Government only held 14pc stock in Bank of Ireland so its vote on that issue was not going to be decisive.

"I don't believe in gesture politics.  I don't believe in symbolic gestures," the Finance Minister said.

Irish Independent

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