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Government still bows to the banks on mortgage rates – Doherty

1 July, 2015 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said it is clear that the government has no intention of standing up to the banks on high interest rates. He was speaking on the day of the deadline given by Michael Noonan to banks to reduce variable mortgage interest rates.

Deputy Doherty reiterated that almost four family homes are being repossessed or surrendered each day. Figures from the Central Bank show that in the first quarter of 2015, 351 homes were repossessed or surrendered.

Deputy Doherty said:

 “Sinn Féin recently introduced a bill whereby a legal process would allow the Central Bank to set a maximum cap on the standard variable rate that the covered institutions (those banks bailed out by the state) can charge.

“I was disappointed but not surprised that the government voted down the Bill. It is clear then that they will not stand up to the banks on this issue. The bill would have gone some way in addressing the lack of action on the part of the government. Had the government put aside their party political approach to all things, they would have seen the need of this mechanism to rein in the banks.

“And that lack of awareness has been reinforced when we see the majority of banks ignore the government’s ‘deadline’ today. When the government voted down our bill and said that they would visit the issue later in the year, they signalled to the banks that they could carry on as they pleased. 300,000 customers will suffer because this government has no notion of protecting them from the avarice of the banks.

“In 2011, when I challenged the government on their failure to stand up to the banks and to pass on ECB rate decrease, then Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told me: ‘Deputy Doherty need be in no doubt that this Government will act decisively, forcefully and effectively with the banks’. In retrospect, this is a cruel failure when we see the numbers of families who lost their homes in only the first three months of the year.

“Like it has on other issues like mortgage arrears and bankers’ pay, this government is content to let the banks decide policy. The Taoiseach laments that the friendly reminder that the government has given the banks about today’s deadline on mortgage rates has largely been ignored, but we can rest assured that the Minister will follow it up. That is not a credible position. The fact is that it is not willing to stand up to the banks.” 

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