Wednesday 21 February 2018

James Fitzsimons: Time to cut the bull and find a solution for borrowers

But the banks won't commit the resources to help ease the pain felt by distressed debtors, says James Fitzsimons

James Fitzsimons

NEXT month Ireland will exit the bailout, but can we expect to be any better off? We're saddled with debt, our pensions have been depleted and even the public sector has experienced some cuts in pay. The Troika may be gone, but they won't be too far away and the powers that be in Europe are still pulling the strings. In fact we have been so submissive and loyal to the European system of governance, our own Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, is the most likely candidate for the next top job in Europe. Who would have thought it would come to this? But maybe that's what it was always about.

Things won't be any better for those in debt unless we apply common sense to finding a solution. Bank debt, business debt, personal debt. It doesn't get any better. The banks that had to be bailed out, sat back and did nothing about the problem over five years. Nothing, that is, other than grabbing what they could, with no regard for the consequences. Meanwhile, those in trouble waited to be thrown a lifeline, but it never came. It's so bad that for some there appears to be no way back. That shouldn't be. But debt resolution involves tough decisions that those in charge are unwilling to make.

The personal insolvency escape route is already here. The banks don't like it because it makes them the losers. It's not what their customers want either, as we have seen so far. It's of limited application if the only thing it achieves is to let people stay in their own home, while they claw their way back from the edge of oblivion. For some, it's a great escape if they are willing to live on the breadline. But only if the bank says yes.

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