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Keane report will not solve mortgage crisis – Doherty

18 October, 2011 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking today during a special Dáil debate on the mortgage crisis Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty described the Keane report as a “deep disappointment”.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The Keane report is deep disappointment to the 100,000 families in serious mortgage distress. It does not provide anything close to a comprehensive solution to the issue of mortgage distress.

“The core proposal is to leave those in mortgage distress at the mercy of the banks and saddled with decades of unsustainable debt.

“Across the country tens of thousands of families were waiting to see if the Government was going to provide a credible route out of mortgage arrears. Instead they have been given minimalist response that will do little to address their distress.

“But then what can you expect from a group made up of 17 civil servants and 5 bankers?

“After three expert group reports produced over almost two years it is incredible that the reports main conclusion is to leave the resolution of this problem to the banks. Clearly the government has learnt nothing.

“The report explicitly rules out a number Fine Gael and Labours Programme for Government commitments. Increasing mortgage interest supplement is ruled out. Extending mortgage interest relief is ruled out. Transforming MABS into a personal debt management agency with strong legal powers is ruled out. There are also no proposals dealing with insulating mortgage holders from ECB interest rate rises.

“There is a better way. Sinn Féin has long argued for a strengthened Distressed Mortgage Resolution Process, with a stronger code of conduct for mortgage lenders. This process must be backed up with an independent Distressed Mortgage Resolution Board to ensure that decisions taken by lenders represent an appropriate response to mortgage distress.

“Where such a response is to be found wanting the Board must have the legal powers to enforce the right solutions and penalise the lenders for failing to act in an appropriate manor. Mortgage lenders must absorb a significant portion of the losses on the value of mortgage.

“Sinn Féin does not believe that the taxpayer should foot the bill for the mortgage crisis. Nor do not believe that it is necessary for the taxpayer to further compensate banks for the loss in value of their residential mortgage loan books. There is sufficient capital in the banks at present to absorb a significant proportion of these losses.

“Maintaining the family home; providing appropriate alternatives; ensuring debt sustainability; and sharing the burden fairly provide the basis for a solution to the causes of the mortgage crisis that is both fair and sustainable for borrowers, lenders and the taxpayer.” ENDS

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