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Noonan refuses to 'scrap' debts

WIDESPREAD debt forgiveness for homeowners has been ruled out by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.

Mr Noonan said it was " not a realistic option" to have a "free-for-all debt forgiveness".

He said, however, that the Government would be looking at the situation as presented on a case-by-case basis.

Dealing with distressed mortgages was a complex issue, he said, and there was no "magic bullet" or one-size-fits-all solution.

Resolutions had to be found on a case-by-case basis through open and meaningful engagement between the borrower and the lender, he said.


"If there is some kind of free-for-all debt forgiveness, there are a lot of people going to be in the queue," Mr Noonan told the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.

The planned reform of the bankruptcy and debt settlement arrangements would be key elements in any consideration of potential policy options, he said.

Mr Noonan also said that recent weak figures from Ireland's main export markets had made it more difficult to forecast the outlook for the Irish economy. He said Ireland could not remain immune if the global economic recovery were to stall.

He added that exports were performing strongly, but domestic economic activity remained weak and was unlikely to contribute to economic growth in the short-term.