| 12.9°C Dublin

Banks told to act on mortgage arrears

SENIOR management at the Central Bank are "tearing their hair out" because big lenders are failing to tackle the mortgage arrears crisis.

The Governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan (right) wants banks to do more to help people get "back on track".

Almost one in five of all mortgages (17pc) are currently in arrears, with 135,628 homeowners failing to meet their commitments.

"They're (homeowners in arrears) not being dealt with in sufficient numbers and that's why we're tearing our hair out.

"This simply isn't good enough," Mr Honohan said.

"There's ongoing progress to get them to work more quickly, the sorting of people who have to be brought back on target and those who need relief.

"I'm not satisfied at all that the banks have made as much progress as I would have expected."

Speaking on RTE's The Week in Politics Mr Honohan added: "They haven't made up their minds exactly how to make these choices and as time goes on, we're getting close to being more directive."

Despite the crisis, progress on restructuring loans was "not good enough" and if banks didn't begin dealing with the problem the Central Bank would step in, he warned.

Governor Honohan's comments came as new figures from the Courts Service show the number of repossession orders have sharply dropped.

Last year, 198 orders were made in the High Court, down 30pc from 281 in 2011, while 256 orders were made in the Circuit Court, down 27pc from 2011 when 353 were made.