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Donohoe rejects mortgage break 'rip-off' claim as he backs banks



Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has effectively backed banks' controversial decision to continue rolling up interest bills while mortgage payers are on payment holidays, saying the costs must "sit somewhere".

He defended the structure of Covid-19 mortgage payment breaks after it was claimed the interest being charged was a "rip-off".

As Finance Minister, Mr Donohoe is by far the biggest shareholder in Irish banks.

Rise TD Paul Murphy made the claim as he challenged Mr Donohoe on what the Government would do.

Mr Donohoe said 70,000 payment breaks were in place for mortgage holders who needed support.

He said he wanted to ensure no additional profits were being made from the practice and mortgage holders were dealt with "fairly".

But he said there were costs in bringing in the payment breaks and "they have to sit somewhere".

There must be clear information given to people receiving the payment breaks about the expense they may face in the future.

He added that when they resume payments, it must be around the same level.

Mr Murphy claimed Mr Donohoe's answer amounted to the Government not doing anything about the situation and this was "unacceptable" given the State's part-ownership of some banks. Mr Donohoe referenced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) as part of his "track record" of helping people during the pandemic.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said interest was not charged in schemes in Spain and Belgium.

The Finance Minister pointed to limits on mortgage breaks in both countries that aren't in place here where they are "broadly available to those who need them the most".

Separately, Mr Donohoe rejected a claim from Mr Murphy that he had been "celebrating" the success of the appeal against the European Commission's ruling in the €13bn Apple tax case.

Mr Donohoe said that, in pursuing the appeal, his only interests had been the hundreds of thousands of people who work for large companies.

Irish Independent