Saturday 24 August 2019

Banks cannot self-regulate, it's time to apply the law to them

Central Bank on Dublin’s Dame Street. (Photo: Damien Eagers)
Central Bank on Dublin’s Dame Street. (Photo: Damien Eagers)
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

I read (Irish Independent, December 17) that many of the State's banks and mortgage providers will have to pay their tracker-mortgage holders an average of €25,000 because of overcharging and compensation. The total sum diverted by the banks from accounts of their own mortgage holders could amount to as much as €25m.

So much for abusing fiduciary relationships and exploiting positions of trust. Historically, the banks are incapable of self-regulation (light touch or otherwise) and finger-wagging from the Governor of the Central Bank has had little or no effect.

The practice adopted by banks of systemically and routinely overcharging customers and mortgage holders amounts to fraud, larceny and theft.

The banks' policies of compensating victims at some unspecified date in the future, in the event of their fraudulent practices and deception being found out, is no defence under Ireland's criminal laws.

The Garda Commissioner should prepare, as a matter of the highest priority, a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions concerning the constant and relentless violations by the banks of the property rights of Irish citizens.

The DPP could then initiate criminal prosecutions against errant bank directors, managers and officials as appropriate.

Applying the old adage "What's sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander", then if the banks can invoke the frightening majesty of the law to sanction mortgage holders when they default or are in arrears, then justice and equity demand that the banks should also be subject to the full rigour of the law when they repeatedly and flagrantly breach it.

Maurice Biggar
Sutton, Dublin 13

Time to learn from past mistakes

Your paper (Irish Independent, December 17) was full of reminders of the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger, pre-2009.

Pages 10 and 11 and your editorial on page 42 reminded us of some of the "unacceptable" actions of the lending institutions in relation to "tracker" loans and their €64bn bailout.

Pages 14, 15, 38 and 39 dealt with the travails of tenants and the homeless as a result of the shortage of affordable rental accommodation.

Page 26 reminded us of the time when shopping in New York was all the rage.

Page 29 dealt with "the value of gold-plated pensions" to the public sector. Pages 30 and 31 dealt with the shortage of nurses.

Last and by no means least, we had the Taoiseach who presided over the Celtic Tiger giving us advice about the future on page 37.

It is in all our interests that we are continually reminded of the fact that all of these problems would be more easy to bear or might not exist at all if the decisions of a powerful few at the head of affairs in Celtic Tiger times had not bankrupted the country. Those decisions tripled both government expenditure and bank lending.

Reminders such as those of December 17 might indeed prevent a repetition of the mistakes of the Celtic Tiger which cost us all so dear.

A Leavy
Sutton, Dublin 13

Not-so-festive season for hunted

'Tis the season to be jolly... but not for the wily fox, the gentle hare and the majestic stag. They, alas, will not be basking in the happy glow of a winter wonderland.

The hare will, after his weeks of captivity compliments of the nearest coursing club, have to run from a pair of salivating greyhounds across a frosty, rain-swept or water-logged field, and if he's unlucky, his bones will be crushed. Or if spectators are lucky, he'll treat them to an involuntary somersault or two, before alighting on the "sporting" venue to continue his performance - the choreographic dicing with death that some human beings find amusing and that 114 TDs approved in June in a Dáil vote on hare coursing.

The fox - which, unlike a domestic dog, has no legal protection - has to put on a show for us humans, too. He certainly impresses with his performance, zigzagging all over the scenic attractions our countryside has to offer, with scores of mounted riders and 20 or 30 hounds in pursuit.

The hunters have nothing against him, they stress, and only wish to have a jolly good day "riding to hounds".

Stag hunting was banned in 2010, but some hunters haven't heard the news yet and still pursue with relish those magnificent animals that once adorned the face of our pre-euro pound coin.

Recent weeks have witnessed numerous breaches of the ban agreed by the Fianna Fáil-Green coalition.

Some day, maybe, the creatures of field and forest will be allowed to run free at Yuletide, unfettered by man's blind ignorance and inhumanity.

As the song says: "All God's creatures have a place in the choir."

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Hogan should have prepared

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has voiced serious doubt over whether Ireland is doing enough to prepare for the "mammoth challenge" likely to be caused by Brexit.

It's a pity Phil didn't have similar doubts when he set up water charges.

Seamus McLoughlin
Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim

We can help Syria's children

Mary Fitzgerald (Irish Independent, December 17) rightly depicts a bleak future for the children of Syria. We have witnessed one of the greatest humanitarian calamities of the 21st century.

No words can describe what these children have endured. They have been slaughtered, maimed, orphaned, wounded or left terrified, bewildered and cold without shelter, food, running water, hospitals, protection, education, under or on the rubble of their homes through no fault of their own. They have had the misfortune of being born and raise in a country wrecked by atrocious violence and grinding poverty. As a consequence, these children's mental well-being is in jeopardy. They could understandably harbour implacable hatred of a world so indifferent to their plight.

We still have ample time to overcome hatred and to bring people together. As Liz O'Donnell summed it up: "Amid unspeakable horror, the Irish navy has been a beacon of moral courage and real humanity". This is truly heartening from a country that has been known as 'the land of saints and scholars'.

There is a moral imperative for other countries to follow suit, not only those on the doorsteps of the crisis like the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

After all, as Queen Rania neatly put it: "Children are great teachers of hope and my hope for every child is that they are safe to play, free to learn, able to make the most of their innate talents and get a real childhood.

"Nothing matters more."

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London, England

Irish Independent

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