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Sinn Féin will legislate to cap mortgage interest rates if elected - Tóibín

2 January, 2016

Sinn Féin’s junior spokesperson on Finance, Peadar Tóibín, has outlined legislation that Sinn Féin will introduce to cap the interest rates that banks can charge on mortgages, if elected to government.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“After five years in government, Fine Gael and Labour have utterly failed to help individuals and families who are experiencing mortgage distress. Four family homes a day are now being respossessed or surrendered. In the first six months of 2015 there were 98,137 families in arrears, which amounts to 13% of all family homes. 

“In fact, the number of those in mortgage arrears  have doubled under this government. Fine Gael and Labour went so far as to change the law to make it easier for banks to repossess homes. They allowed the Central Bank to amend the Code of Conduct on mortgage arrears so that the position of borrowers was weakened and the banks strengthened to be more aggressive. 

“The government have persistently refused to stand up to the banks. Last year Sinn Féin introduced legislation whereby a legal process would allow the Central Bank to set a maximum cap on the standard variable rate that the banks bailed out by the state can charge. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the government voted down the bill. 

 “If elected to government we will introduce this legislation to empower the Central Bank to limit the interest rates that banks can charge. A one per cent cut on mortgage interest rates for example would result in a €2,000 saving a year on a €200,000 mortgage. Irish homeowners are already paying exceptionally high standard variable rates (SVR) on mortgages compared to other EU countries.

“It is evident that not enough has been done to help struggling families. In this term of office, the government have signalled to the banks that they could carry on as they pleased. We can only expect to see more of the same if government parties hold office once again.

“Sinn Féin offers an alternative to the protected interests and golden circles which has failed our citizens so miserably in the past. We will continue to stand up for the interests of our citizens and if elected we can provide greater legal protection to the Family Home.”

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