Wednesday 20 November 2019

Repossessions? Sorry, but we're not having it

'It should be remembered that it was the bank’s cock-up that put 21 householders on the street in the first place'
'It should be remembered that it was the bank’s cock-up that put 21 householders on the street in the first place'


'Serious", "controlled" and "no smile" - this was the helpful note that PTSB chief executive Jeremy Masding wrote as a reminder on how to comport himself last week, as he explained how his bank would compensate customers whom the bank had put out of their homes.

It should be remembered that it was the bank's cock-up that put 21 householders on the street in the first place.

Yesterday, Mr Masding gave an interview in which he pointed out how his bank could have repossessed more homes and counselled that it was now time to start meaningful discussions about repossessions.

At this point, we do not know whether the remarks were delivered with a 'no smile' memo, but we rather doubt that taxpayers who have kept PTSB afloat with €4bn in bailout funding will require reminders not to smile.

There is a generation of mortgage-holders out there who feel that they are owned by their houses, rather than the other way around.

They find themselves confounded at every turn in trying to meet some of the highest interest rates in the EU.

They struggle week to week and are running to stand still. Now, to their list of anxieties they can add the chilling prospect that we may expect more repossessions.

Once more, it seems necessary to restate that we are a society and not merely an economy. There are values and rights that have been hard won. For many, these core ideals will take precedence over the requirement to keep the ledgers of a bailed-out bank neat and tidy.

One wonders how the Taoiseach and Finance Minister will receive the news that 'repossessions', which played such a shattering role in the preceding two centuries, could again be the subject du jour in the run-up to an election.

As the fortunes of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil see-saw, the bigger parties should heed the words of another banker, Oliver Kemper, who advised that "money is a servant to politicians and the country. But if the politicians and the country become the servant of the money, the politicians have failed."

If repossessions are the solution, then what were all those years of austerity supposed to be about?

Special Olympics are a glimpse of true sport

'Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." This is the motto of the Special Olympics, on which the curtain came down yesterday in Los Angeles.

Not only was the Irish team brave in epitomising the spirit of the games, our athletes were heroic and triumphant, returning with a magnificent trove of 86 medals.

Winning gold is the spur for all athletes, but this team won friends and made this country very proud. Whether one was on the podium or playing a supporting role, this was an outstanding success story.

Of course, winning isn't everything and it would be wrong to single out any one performer in the rich tapestry of such success. All the same, for the record, it should be noted that over the course of the World Games, Irish athletes claimed a total of 26 gold, 29 silver and 31 bronze medals.

As another shadow was cast over sport yesterday with new revelations about doping, those looking to find the real spirit of fellowship, companionship, commitment and courage should look no further than our Special Olympians for honest and true inspiration.

Irish Independent

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