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Editorial: Let's have a fair deal on mortgages

FIRST came a glimmer of good news, then home owners are hammered by more demands on their shrinking disposable income. News that the Govern-ment is setting up a system to protect mortgage holders behind in their payments from having their homes repossessed was late but welcome.

Now, with lenders saying they are losing money on their mortgage books, the main banks look set to follow Permanent TSB's lead in pushing up rates.

By one estimate, there are nearly 200,000 homes already in negative equity, around 30pc of mortgaged homes. We are already one of the world's most indebted societies and around 3.3pc of Irish mortgage borrowers are at least 90 days behind in their payments.

The banks must take some responsibility for not properly stress-testing loans at a time when they are effectively being given a lifeline by the taxpayer.

Proposals to bail out hard-pressed home owners must be fair to all sides but quick and effective action is urgent and necessary.