Taoiseach Enda Kenny calls on banks to show greater urgency in dealing with mortgage crisis
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has called on Ireland's banks to show a greater urgency in dealing with the mortgage crisis.
After a Central Bank report laid bare the growing numbers unable to repay their home loans, Mr Kenny said the arrears problem was now the single biggest issue facing Irish people.
But he dismissed allegations from both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein that the Fine Gael/Labour coalition was chronically inactive in dealing with the fall out.
Mr Kenny said the Government was being pro-active on a number of solutions, including establishing a Cabinet sub-committee and increasing mortgage interest supplements for those worst hit by the property crash.
It was also working on the personal insolvency bill and had face-to-face meetings with banks on a number of occasions, he told the Dail.
"I would like to think the banks themselves would show a sense of greater urgency in sitting down with the borrowers - in each case different - and work out what is the best solution, so people can hold onto their houses and at the same time not end up in a situation where they won't be able to meet what is a difficult challenge now," said Mr Kenny.
But Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said a lack of government response was having a debilitating impact on individuals, families and on the wider economy.
"There's been a clear lack of urgency, a lack of any commitment to radical action, and indeed your whole behaviour and response to the mortgage arrears crisis has been one of chronic inactivity," he told the Taoiseach.
Mr Martin said more than 75,000 homeowners were now unable to pay their mortgage after 90 days, which was more than 10pc of homeowners in Ireland. This compared to 2.5pc in the UK, he said.
Mr Martin added: "Clearly this has been allowed drag on for far too long."
The Fianna Fail leader said there were also problems with would-be buyers, who have a good credit history, but were not getting mortgages from lenders.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said no-one would guess the mortgage crisis was single biggest problem facing Irish people judging by the government's inactivity in tackling it.
"For people who find themselves in mortgage distress, it is of little comfort to them that you have established a Cabinet sub-committee," she added.
A Central Bank report released yesterday showed up to a quarter of all mortgages have either been restructured or are in arrears.