"EU Commission says evictions are the result of Irish government policy" - Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has stated that the European Commission has acknowledged that the Irish Goverment's merciless policy choices have led to a substantial increase in family home repossessions.
Carthy, who is a member of the EU parliament's economic & Monetary Affairs Committee, stated that the Commission's response to a written question submitted by him has confirmed that the FG-Labour Goverment has chosen repossession of family homes as a policy.
"The response by the Commission is explicit in stating that the Coalition government went beyond simply reversing the Dunne Judgement, when enacting legislation.
"The Dunne judgment (which, in effect, prohibited the repossession of family homes) was reversed at the behest of the Troika and the resulting legislation has caused a serious increase in the number of family home respossessions in Ireland, which the Commission has reaffirmed.
"Under the the watch of Fine Gael and Labour almost 4 family homes a day are now being lost to the banks. The homeslessness that we have witnessed is at an unprecendented crisis because of a conscious decision by the Govermennt not to challenge the banks.
"These policy choices have resulted in 42% of the cost of Europe's banking crisis being burdened on the Irish people. And, now Irish families are paying the price with their homes.
"These policies have saw Irish and European banks bailed out and preferential interest rates offered to those of extreme wealth while those who played no hand, act nor part in the creation of the crisis are now forced to become homeless.
"The Commissions response has reafiirmed that a conscious decision by the government not to challenge the primacy of financial institutions has led to a sharp increase in the repossessions of family homes.
"Sinn Féin has called for solutions on a case-by-case basis including write-downs where necessary. An independent body needs to be put in place to force banks to make sustainable deals".
NOTE: Written Question and Response below:
Question for written answer E-011701/2015
to the Commission
Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL)
Subject: Home repossessions
Press coverage of a Commission draft report suggests that the overall number of repossessions in Ireland is low, with the majority of the homes being voluntarily surrendered. The fact of the matter is that almost four family homes are being repossessed or surrendered each day in Ireland. Figures from the Irish Central Bank show that in the first quarter of 2015, 351 homes were repossessed or surrendered.
Furthermore, according to figures from the Courts Service, the rate at which homes are being repossessed has increased by more than 500 per cent since last year.
This cannot be considered a low rate by any analysis.
Can the Commission advise as to the quantitative figures for the average number of repossessions of homes across Europe as a whole?
Answer given by Mr Moscovici
on behalf of the Commission
In 2013, Ireland enacted legislation removing the unintended impediments to repossession from the so-called Dunne judgment. This legislation was accompanied by CBI guidance on mortgage resolution, which comprises the voluntary surrender or forceful repossession of the property where no other option is available. Only since then, the number of repossessions and surrenders in Ireland have increased to significant levels. The high growth rates witnessed today are hence explained by the very low volume of past repossessions.
Consistent with this evidence, a study by IMF staff found that Ireland was the country where less properties had been repossessed in cumulative terms since the onset of the crisis, compared to Spain, Iceland and the USA. The number of repossessions currently taking place in Ireland is also low compared to other countries that have lived similar property bubbles. In the first quarter of 2015, 123 principal dwelling houses were repossessed and 306 surrendered in Ireland. By way of illustration, 8,802 repossession processes for such houses were initiated in Spain during this period. Moreover, it takes on average 50 weeks to complete a repossession procedure in Ireland compared to 18 weeks in the USA and 36 weeks in Spain, which also contributes to explaining the comparatively low number of repossession in Ireland.
The Commission does not currently have access to the agregate number of repossessions in Europe. Data are compiled, if at all, at national level in a non-harmonised manner given the diversity of the national legal frameworks applicable to mortgages and repossessions. The Commission has commissioned a study to get an overview and analysis of available data and trends regarding housing evictions between 2010 and 2013.
 "Resolving Residential Mortgage Distress: Time to Modify?" Jochen R. Andritzky, December 17, 2014, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=42532.0
 Pilot project - Promoting protection of the right to housing - Homelessness prevention in the context of evictions (http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=624&langId=en&callId=387&furtherCalls=yes)