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Government leaving legacy of bad debts and bad memories

22 April, 2004


Responding to today‚s news that Irish family debt has doubled in the last five years, Sinn Féin EU candidate for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald said "Years of inaction on the part of this government with regard to, among other things, the housing crisis, rip-off bank costs and the general increased cost of living is leaving the people of this country a legacy of bad debts and bad memories."

Ms McDonald made her statement following the release of the Central Bank‚s quarterly report. The report also said that while Irish household borrowing was not the highest in Europe, after another few years of the booming property market, it would top the league.

Ms McDonald said:

"Years of inaction on the part of this government with regard to, among other things, the housing crisis, rip-off bank costs and the general increasing cost of living is leaving the people of this country a legacy of bad debts and bad memories.

"Half of this debt comes from mortgages. Borrowing in this area topped €55 billion last year. That's not surprising given that house prices are rising at rates of up to 14% a year, while the average income in rising at 3-5% a year. The government has let this housing crisis develop, and they are doing absolutely nothing to bring an end to it. Enshrining the right to housing in the constitution would be a step in the right direction. Today I read that there is to be a new housing development built in Balbriggan and Baldoyle. That's great news for people seeking homes, but exactly how many people can afford to buy a house in Dublin right now?

"The rest of this debt can be found in a myriad of problems. Take the banks for example. Bank profits in this country are considerably higher than the European average. Last week we discovered that AIB was charging exorbitant rates of interest on its credit cards. Banks are yielding massive amounts of money in interest from the debts Irish people have incurred, and as I have said - we need a financial ombudsman to cut these outrageous interest rates, as well as other hidden costs.

"Everything from childcare costs, education fees, health charges, stealth taxes and service charges, to the prices we pay for material goods and services, are in excess in this country. People bought heavily into the concept of the celtic tiger, but they are realizing now that that boom was only profitable for certain sectors of society. The rest of us are living well beyond our means, and this government doesn‚t give two hoots about rising debts."ENDS

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