Wednesday 21 February 2018

John Downing: TDs don't want to admit it but evictions are firmly on agenda

WATCH out for the e-word in the coming week. 'Eviction' is a most unpleasant concept – and for a host of historical reasons it has huge additional political scare value in Ireland. But any way you look at it, the long-awaited initiative to help people overwhelmed by mortgage debt must in some way involve an increase in property repossessions by banks and building societies.

The secretary general of the Finance Department, John Moran, last Thursday told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that Ireland's low rate of home repossessions was "unnatural". Ireland's eviction rate is 0.25pc and the rate in Britain, which is not going through a property market crisis, is 12 times the Irish rate at 3pc, while in the US the eviction rate is 5pc.

Government action on this issue of distressed mortgages is so long overdue that it defies comment. The previous government had been talking about doing something for ordinary people since some months after the bank guarantee scheme in autumn 2008.

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