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Mortgage crisis a direct result of government policy – Carthy

28 November, 2013 - by Matt Carthy MEP

The Sinn Féin EU candidate for the Midlands North West constituency Matt Carthy will tonight hold a public information meeting in Drogheda on the issue of mortgage distress.

The meeting will hear from a range of experts on the issue of mortgage debt as well as the Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty and party President, and TD for Louth, Gerry Adams.

Speaking in advance of the event Matt Carthy said:

“Mortgage distress and the need to help people in this position is something that has been raised with me repeatedly over the last couple of months.  And, it is my contention that there cannot be a real economic recovery in this state unless and until the issue of mortgage distress is tackled appropriately.

“We are in a time of real financial difficulty for many families.  Many are coping with unemployment – others with the fact that the family has split as a parent has been forced to leave their family behind and emigrate for work.

“Years of austerity have created real hardship and have done nothing to revive the economy.  In fact austerity has made the situation worse.  Public services are at breaking point.  Banks have been bailed out but little has been done for home owners who find themselves at risk of losing their homes.

“While individuals made mistakes in terms of how much they borrowed, the situation most ordinary families find themselves in now is the direct result of government policy.  The Government failed to regulate the banks and in many cases incentivised property developers and speculators.  It failed to take any action to prevent a crash even when it was clear that an unsustainable property bubble had developed.

“It is clear that the issue of mortgage distress must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.  People need to be able to find a way out of the difficult situations they now find themselves in.

“Sinn Féin is calling for a FAIR approach to dealing with mortgage distress – one that puts the Family home first, Adjudicates on an Independent basis and brings about Resolutions that can involve write-downs among other options – on a case by case basis. The record of banks in dealing with homeowners has been abysmal – letters threatening repossession have been sent out rather than engagement with homeowners to resolve difficulties.  Sinn Féin has opposed the legislation that will allow banks to start repossessing family homes. Repossession is an absolute last option and we do not believe that family homes should be repossessed unless the bank can show that very strict criteria have been met and a judge is fully satisfied that all other reasonable options have been exhausted.

“I organised tonight’s meeting with two objectives: One, to set out Sinn Féin’s proposals to deal with the crisis in a little bit more detail. 

“Secondly, I wanted to provide an opportunity to offer sound advice to those who are in mortgage distress or who fear that they are heading that way and I would like to commend our guests who have agreed to speak tonight.  Unfortunately, there is no magic formula; no quick solution; but I want everyone here who has found themselves in genuine mortgage distress to know you are not alone. 180,000 households are in the same boat as you. To know that you have the support and solidarity of your Sinn Féin representatives and indeed of your communities.  And to know that organisations, such as those on the platform tonight, are on hand to offer support and sound advice in your dealings with the financial institutions.”

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