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Taoiseach and Tánaiste at odds over one-year bankruptcy plans

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and the Tanaiste & Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and the Tanaiste & Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and the Tanaiste & Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton have publicly differed over plans to reduce the term of bankruptcy from three years to one.

At the Government's progress update after four years in office, Ms Burton spoke strongly in favour of reducing the bankruptcy terms, as proposed in a bill by Labour TD Willie Penrose.

Ms Burton said: "We will take further action to address the issue of mortgage arrears and personal debt. We have already introduced reforming legislation in this area and it is only right that we review that.

"Reducing the bankruptcy term from three years to one would be a useful step," Ms Burton added.

However, at the same event the Taoiseach was far more circumspect on the issue, representing strong Fine Gael reservations on the proposed move.

"It is something we can consider," was as far as he went when pressed by reporters.

Mr Kenny and Ms Burton said the Government would announce in April new measures to deal with struggling families who were in mortgage arrears for more than a year.

Mr Kenny said: "Mortgage distress is now the most painful legacy of the decade of mismanagement of the Fianna Fáil party. The arsonists who set fire to our homes are now offering advice as to how to extinguish our homes.

"The Government will announce a new set of measures in April to focus on particular the still unacceptably high numbers of families in long-term arrears now facing repossession of their homes. We will bring in a new set of guidelines," Mr Kenny added.

However, the opposition were deeply critical of the Government's handling of the mortgage crisis, saying it is "out of touch" with reality.

Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath last night described comments by Finance Minister Michael Noonan that banks are "using the courts to get people to engage with them who haven't engaged" as a display of crass insensitivity.

Daniel McConnell

Irish Independent