Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams speaking during tonight’s Sinn Féin Private Members Business in the Dáil launched a scathing attack on the record of the government in tackling distressed mortgages and accused the Labour Party of breaking more pre-election promises.
The Sinn Féin leader pointed out that exactly two years ago to the day Labour told people in mortgage distress that, ‘if Labour is in government, they will enjoy peace of mind.’
The Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore said ‘the banks have already received thousands of millions in taxpayers money. There has to be a quid pro quo for that, and that is to give people who are in mortgage distress a breather …’
Deputy Adams described this as more broken promises from Labour.
Teachta Adams said:
“Minister, the government is failing the tens of thousands of families in mortgage distress and on the social housing waiting lists.
“Last October Fiona Muldoon, the Head of Banking Regulation at the Irish Central Bank was scathing in her criticism of the bankers and their failure to address the issue of mortgage distress.
“This morning AIB indicated that they plan to increase their variable interest rates once again – a move that will directly impact on 70,000 customers.
“Every 0.25pc rise in rates adds €30 a month to the cost of repayments on every €200,000 borrowed. That’s €30 that many of these families simply don’t have.
“Minister, clearly the banks have learned nothing and care less. But worse, AIB is a fully owned state bank and the government is refusing to tackle this issue head on.
“It’s alright to give €64 billion to the banks but it’s not alright to helps citizens in mortgage distress. Minister, the Government should intervene directly and tell AIB that their planned rates increase is not acceptable.
“It is a fact that the government’s failure to deal firmly with the Banks has only added to the mortgage crisis. Fine Gael and Labour came to power promising to prioritise those in mortgage distress – it has abandoned them.
“Exactly two years ago to the day Labour told people in mortgage distress that, ‘if Labour is in government, they will enjoy peace of mind.’
“The Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore said: ‘The banks have already received thousands of millions in taxpayers money. There has to be a ‘quid pro quo’ for that, and that is to give people who are in mortgage distress a breather …’
“More broken promises from Labour. Today, there are more citizens than ever in mortgage distress.
“There are 180,000 households currently in trouble with 115 additional homeowners falling into distress every day.
“Minister, all of this is a shocking indictment of the Labour Party in government and of this government’s record of failure on this issue
“Minister, when are you going to realise that the banks are the problem? The Personal Insolvency legislation will not fix this problem. It hands a veto over any Personal Insolvency Arrangement to the banks.
“As long as the Banks have a veto, and the government refuses to face them down, there is little prospect of real progress for struggling homeowners.
“Minister, I also want to deal briefly with the issue of social housing.
“The policy of Fine Gael and Labour in depleting the social housing stock is exacerbating the crisis in housing and the numbers of citizens on waiting lists.
“My constituency offices, like many other TD’s offices, are dealing with increasing numbers of people who have been forced to leave what was the family home.
“Sometimes this is because of relationship breakdowns and in some cases it is due to domestic violence.
“These same citizens then have difficulty accessing Supplementary Welfare Allowance or Rent Allowance.
“They are often not accepted onto Local Authority Housing lists as they are deemed to have vested financial interests in family homes which they no longer occupy.
“There is a lack of clarity in this area and a disparity in procedures between local authorities.
“Minister Hogan needs to empower and resource local authorities to effectively assess such applicants.
“He needs to set out a clear policy to deal with such applicants and to establish mechanisms to allow for compassionate and psychological factors to be part of the assessment process.
“In a republic citizens should have the right to a home. This is not a real republic but it should aspire to protecting citizens, safeguarding their rights, and ensuring that they have a home.
“This motion proposes measures that can significantly contribute to ending the current crisis in housing. I commend it to the Dáil.”