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Debt resolution cannot be left waiting – Ellis

4 May, 2011 - by Michael Colreavy TD

Speaking today during a debate on mortgage debt Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD told the Dáil that “debt resolution cannot be left waiting. The government needs to start taking housing policy seriously.”

Deputy Ellis said;

“It’s all very well and good talking about supporting the Mortgage Interest Supplement Scheme, but that fails to acknowledge that there are some people whose mortgage arrears are so severe, that they will never in a single lifetime be able to repay what they owe.

“The statistics tells us that there are almost 45,000 mortgage accounts in arrears for more than 90 days. That amounts to 5.7% of residential mortgages – it is a colossal rate given the comparatively high rate of home ownership in this State.

“Unemployment continues to go up, wages are being cut, and we all have to sit here and wait for the penny to drop with the Government while they talk about providing supports to mortgage holders in difficulty by making advice available through MABS. MABS does great work. But a budgeting service is of utterly no benefit to a person who has no prospect of ever being able to get back on track with their mortgage.

“We need concrete proposals to address this. Not meaningless amendments as proposed by Fianna Fáil and the Minister for Finance which only reiterate policies that clearly are not working.

“The Government must take proactive measures to force all of the banks and other financial institutions including the sub-prime lenders who appear to be the most aggressive pursuers of repossessions to provide real relief for mortgage holders.

“The Government must ensure a complete overhaul of housing policy in general. There are still 5,000 homeless people in this state. Distressed mortgages are just one symptom of a fundamentally broken housing system in Ireland.

“Further to this, rent controls, and a Tenant’s Rights Charter must be introduced. Existing tenancy laws need to be strengthened and enforced. The government must take a rights-based approach to housing policy. We said this in 2003 while we were talking about the banks being “flathulach” with the money they lent. We are still saying it now and telling the Government to listen.”

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