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Warning of repossessions

Several deputies warned of the dangers of repossession as a result of new guidelines on insolvency (Dail Eireann, Debates, 26th March 2013, 657-679; 27th March, 122-145). According to Finian McGrath (ind, Dublin NC), there was a huge mortgage arrears crisis for many families.  Over 95,000 residential mortgages were in arrears more than 90 days and the 2013 budget had placed additional burdens on these families.  The government’s failure to address mortgage distress was having an adverse effect on mental health and well-being and there was a widespread fear of a increase in family home repossessions.

Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP, Dun Laoghaire) described as outrageous the government policing what people should spend their money on.  There should be a write-down of mortgages to current market levels and people should be asked to pay no more than 35% of their incomes.  Shane Ross (ind, Dublin S) agreed and described the government’s solution as ‘appalling’.  The government’s solution, which was not put up front, was to give back to the banks the right of repossession.  He did not accept any ministerial assurance that this would be the last resort.  It was not the last solution, but rather the first one, because it was the first threat: it may be hidden and not specifically spelled out in each case, but it was there.  The floodgates would be opened to repossession in the new few months.  We could predict with confidence and fear that repossessions will be back in spades by Christmas and that was not a solution to the mortgage problem.    Dara Murphy (FG, Cork NC) accused him of recklessness and emotive scaremongering.  The Taoiseach, ministers and the banks had said that repossessions would be the last resort.