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John Drennan: Senior ministers don't get realities of crisis -- Spring

The Irish banks should pay "social and economic reparations" to the State as a result of the reckless lending that led to the economic collapse, according to Labour backbench TD Arthur Spring.

He is one of the new Government TDs who are now concerned that a Cabinet which mostly comes from an entirely different generation to their own has still not fully got to grips with the extent and consequences of the mortgage crisis.

The Government has set up a top-level cabinet committee into the mortgage crisis, which is due to report shortly, but in spite of the importance publicly attached to the committee by the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste, many backbench TDs across the Fine Gael and Labour ranks believe the Cabinet, "because of their age profile'', are "detached'' from the issue.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Tralee TD Mr Spring said: "Younger politicians feel they are not having sufficient influence on this issue." And he expressed the concern that the Cabinet was not "part of the generation that is feeling the full consequences of the mortgage crisis''.

"The absence of urgency worries me. We are being assured that the issue is understood but our concern is they understand it in theory rather than practice," he said.

In an indication of how the housing crash has reached into the very floor of the Dail chamber, Mr Spring openly admitted that when it came to the mortgage crisis, "I am one of that generation, we call it 'Generation Jinxed', who "when it comes to having a future, we will be in our mid-40s before we reach the starting line".

Mr Spring noted he was not talking about his own circumstances or those of others within the Dail, but the ongoing consequences for the economy of a housing bubble where "those who purchased in 2006 need house values to increase by between 100 per cent and 130 per cent to get back to the starting block''.

"Like the Japanese after the property crash, people are facing the prospect of carrying debt for 80 years," he said.

And he warned that while "all disposable income has been withdrawn for the purposes of putting a roof over citizens' heads", there could be no real domestic growth.

Sunday Independent