Monday 23 April 2018

The final insult is being visited on a conned generation

To charge ordinary homeowners for other people's debt forgiveness is a step too far, writes Brendan O'Connor

Some day, a story will be told about a whole generation of Irish people who were sold down the river. Our story starts in the Irish soil and the Irish psyche. We are a nation obsessed with owning property, with having a roof over our heads, that no man can take away from us, a little square of the earth that is ours.

And in many ways the generation that came of age in the last 10 years were just like the previous few. They were encouraged to get on the property ladder, to get out there and get themselves some bricks and mortar. But this generation were encouraged to take on huge debt to buy bricks and mortar. Because this time, a combination of speculation, cheap money, and a booming economy had made property wildly expensive.

For 10 consecutive years in the boom, property rose an average of 14 per cent per annum in price. But it was OK. Because this bright new generation were doing well. Women no longer gave up work when they got married, so many young households had two incomes coming in. And this generation worked very hard. They probably worked harder and longer than previous generations. They were willing to work hard for a while, maybe put off having a family, in order to get set up in life. Then eventually they would change gear and enjoy more quality of life. Some day. Little did they know that day would never come.

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