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Housing Action Plan confirms U-turn on commitments to those in mortgage arrears – Doherty

19 July, 2016 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said the commitments to those in mortgage arrears in the Housing Action Plan represent a major U-turn from the Programme for Government commitments. In particular, Deputy Doherty pointed to the dropping of a dedicated new court for arrears cases and a commitment to amend the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears as examples of promises broken.

The Donegal TD said:

“There was much to be welcomed in the Programme for Government commitments to deal with mortgage arrears including many things Sinn Fein had long called for. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the watering down of these commitments, which I already have quizzed the Minister for Finance on, has been confirmed in this plan.

“Gone, it seems, is the Programme for Government promise to ‘establish a dedicated new court’ for mortgage cases. Instead, the Minister for Justice will ask the Courts to hold these cases at certain times and places. The commitment to hold these cases in private has now been in put doubt too with the Housing Action Plan raising concern about the constitutionality of this move.

“Gone also is the Programme for Government commitment to amend the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. I have already pointed out the backsliding of Minister Noonan on this issue when he told me that the commitment only referred to non-bank lenders like vulture funds. Now it is clear that even that commitment has been reduced to ‘an assessment of existing sustainable solutions’.

“Likewise, the commitment to raise the threshold levels for accessing the Personal Insolvency system have been downgraded to only a possibility instead of a commitment to raise them ‘where appropriate’.

“There is welcome detail on the new advice service and the powers available to it. However, we have seen many schemes like this before that were promised but never delivered. As we have seen, there is a long way between what this government promises and what is actually delivered. We are eight years on since the banking crash yet it is as if Fine Gael are only now waking up to the mortgage crisis. The 85,989 families in arrears can’t afford any more backsliding on what were, in the first instance, modest steps in the right direction.” 

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