Adams challenges Kenny on mortgage distress and property tax
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused the government of adopting a softly, softly attitude to the banks and of wasting two years trying to get the banks to do the right thing in respect of households in mortgage distress.
Teachta Adams also accused the government of introducing a Family Home Tax that is unfair and which many citizens cannot afford.
The Sinn Féin leader challenged the Taoiseach on these matters in the Dáil in Leaders Questions this morning.
Speaking afterward Gerry Adams said:
“The government is now two years in office. In that time the number of families in mortgage arrears has nearly doubled, while the government has adopted a softly, softly attitude to the banks, including providing them with a veto over any arrangements reached through the personal insolvency service.
“It is clear that the banks, left to their own devices, are unwilling to deal compassionately and efficiently with citizens in mortgage arrears.
“On top of that householders right across this state are this week receiving letters from the revenue in relation to the tax on their family home. This is a tax that was designed by Fianna Fail and delivered by Fine Gael and Labour. It takes no account of ability to pay, of those in negative equity, those in mortgage arrears, or the thousands of euro paid by many in stamp duty. It is an unfair tax.
“The Taoiseach admitted as much himself in Fine Gael’s election manifesto when he said:
‘Fianna Fail’s proposal, now endorsed by the Labour Party, to introduce by 2014 an annual, recurring residential property tax on the family home is unfair.’ (P59)
“There is an economic and human crisis around mortgage distress.
“Efforts by the government to deflect criticism on this issue from Sinn Féin by referring to the rates system in the north don’t stand scrutiny. They are different systems and under the rates system households receive public services, including fire brigade calls out, tap water, rubbish collections, a free health service, free prescriptions and much more.
“Sinn Fein has advocated the need for a statutory independent body to impose settlements that are legally binding agreements between mortgage holders and banks including where appropriate write-downs. The government must also remove the bank’s veto.
“Two years have been wasted waiting for the banks to do the right thing. And now the government plans to introduce legislation to reverse the Dunne judgment that will make it easier for the banks to repossess family homes. The government must ensure that any legislation includes protection of the family home. Repossessions of family homes are wrong and will not solve this crisis.”