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Government must oblige banks to deal with mortgage crisis: Adams

16 February, 2013 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, told reporters in Dublin this afternoon, that his party’s motion to the Dáil next week will address the issue of mortgage distress and the growing shortage of social housing.

“While more and more people are living under extreme stress because of their mortgage arrears, it beggars belief, that the government is still kow-towing to the banks and not stepping in to oblige them to take action on relieving mortgage distress.

“Figures show that a further 115 families a day are falling into distress every day and that a quarter of those with domestic mortgages are in trouble.

“There is a stark contrast between the way the government deals with bankers who owe billions and the 180,000 people who are in danger of losing the roof over their heads, who are getting no bailout.

“Our constituency offices are dealing with people who report a very unsympathetic reception from banks, but when big bankers run up debts of billions the government steps in to pick up the tab.

The Taoiseach is talking about his “frustration” with the banks, but the government should use its leverage with the state-owned Allied Irish Banks and the state-supported Bank of Ireland to help out householders.

Our motion to the Dáil next week makes practical proposals not only to deal with the mortgage crisis but also the shortage of social housing which has seen growing housing waiting lists throughout the state.”


Text of motion:

That Dáil Éireann

recognises that;

·The two biggest issues in housing are mortgage distress and the lack of social housing. 
·That the current government has pursued a policy to pass responsibility for providing social housing onto the private sector and has continued to deplete the public housing stock.

Notes that;

·One in four mortgage holders in the 26 Counties is in distress, tens of thousands more are at risk of distress.

·115 mortgage holders are falling into distress every day

·Fine Gael and Labour have failed to fully implement the recommendations on the Keane Report into the Mortgage Crisis

·The Central Bank and the financial institutions are failing to be proactive

·The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 will do little for the vast majority of mortgage holders currently in distress

·Despite the fact that Sinn Féin and others have since 2011 called for an independent statutory mortgage distress body to adjudicate and enforce agreements on mortgages between banks and mortgage holders, the Personal Insolvency Act establishes a Personal Insolvency Service but does not adequately deal specifically with the area of mortgage distress

·This government since 2011 has cut spending on housing by 19% to €585 million leaving Local Authority Housing desperately underfunded resulting in 98,318 households on waiting lists for Local Authority Housing in this state.

·There are 23,649 people housed as part of the Rental Accommodation Scheme and 94,000 people are in receipt of Rent Supplement with recent cuts to Rent Supplement rates making securing affordable housing even more difficult and in some cases led to families being made homeless.

·That the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) is mandated to provide a social dividend, yet only 179 units have so far been provided for housing

Calls on the government to;

·Remove the veto given to lenders over proposed insolvency agreements in the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 and prioritise the maintenance of the family home in any agreements dealing with residential mortgages.

·Provide in the legislation for the independent adjudication and enforcement on mortgage distress cases, through a new category of agreement to be known as ‘independent agreement on mortgage distress’ which will be adjudicated by  a ‘mortgage restructuring panel’ appointed by the Minister who would have the statutory power to agree and impose agreements  on lending institutions where the panel believes that such agreements would enable the mortgage holders to remain in the family home

·Include the possibility of write downs on portions of the mortgage debt as well as other options such as debt for equity swaps, mortgage to rent and short selling in the options available when reaching ‘mortgage restructuring agreements’.

·Take more direct action with the Central Bank to force lending institutions to adopt a more proactive and lender friendly approach to the mortgage crisis.

·Ensure NAMA contributes to “the social and economic development of the State” in providing any housing units in its portfolio suitable for social housing.

·Develop a plan to commence the building at least 5,000 housing units by the end of 2013, with a further 4,000 houses by the second half of 2014 for the public housing system, including the use of social housing bonds to fund these projects.

·Restore funding for Traveller accommodation to its 2010 level.

 Brian Stanley, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Mary Lou McDonald, Sandra McLellan, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Jonathan O'Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Peadar Tóibín.

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