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Finance Minister refusal to stop Permanent TSB interest rate hike breathtakingly arrogant – Morgan

24 July, 2009

Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has described Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s comment that the increase reflects commercial market realities as breathtakingly arrogant.

The Louth TD said:

“Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has refused to intervene in Permanent TSBs decision to hike up interest rates on mortgage holders thus negating the recent ECB reductions. The Minister’s comment that the increase reflects commercial market realities is breathtakingly arrogant and illustrates magnificently in whose interests his decisions are made.

“This week Brian Lenihan muted a possible reduction in the minimum wage and his government is actively considering reducing social welfare payments as recommended by the McCarthy Report. At every turn this government is attacking the low paid and the vulnerable and in the same breath is doing whatever it takes and whatever it costs to protect the profits on the banks.

“It is interesting to note that one of the Ministers appointees to the Permanent TSB board is Ray McSharry, the former Minister for Finance who appointed Colm McCarthy to the original An Bord Snip in 1987. It appears its very much business as usual for Fianna Fáil Ministers old and new.  

“The Minister’s refusal to stop the Permanent TSB increase must be responded to. There can be no doubt that other lenders are now waiting in the wings to follow Permanent TSB’s lead. The ECB’s interest rate reductions that have been so instrumental in bringing down costs of living will be negated if the government gives this signal to the banking sector that it is ok to hike up rates. Taking money out of the general economy and putting it into the coffers of financial institutions profits is economically inept and socially reckless.

“In the 1980’s Geraldine Kennedy, then a Progressive Democrat TD was challenged to live in Ballymum for a week existing only on social welfare. She lasted 4 days. Well, all is quiet in the world of the media, so I challenge Brian Lenihan to provide for his family and pay off the average monthly mortgage relying only on a weekly social welfare payment for the month of August. It would be great human interest story and we would see if the Minister truly has the courage of his convictions and the strength of character to see them through.” ENDS

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