Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has described the deepening mortgage crisis as a ‘national emergency which demands a significant response’.
Questioning the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions yesterday, Deputy Martin said the mortgage crisis is deepening every single week and the Government is failing to tackle it.
“Household debt and financial distress is at an unprecedented level across the country. We now have more than 180,000 residential mortgages in some form of distress or difficulty. 20,000 mortgages are in arrears for over two years and approximately 86,000 mortgages are in arrears for over 90 days. The situation is serious at a personal, social, financial and societal level.”
“What is most alarming is that the Governor of the Central Bank says the situation is getting worse. He has said there are many people who cannot pay and that distressed mortgages are not being dealt with in significant numbers. The Central Bank is not happy at all with the progress the banks are making in this regard. I meet families on a daily basis in deep distress who are making reasonable efforts to cope with their situation but who are not getting a sufficient response from the banks.
“There is a strong correlation between mortgage arrears and mental health issues and there is a genuine crisis at this time.”
“The Keane report was published 18 months ago, but very little has happened since in the context of practical, innovative responses from the banks. Only 12 split mortgages have been effected since then and only one mortgage-to-rent arrangement. The response to the Keane recommendations by the banks has been appalling. Given that the banks got €9 billion in the context of their recapitalisation to deal with mortgage modification and losses and were supposed to use that funding intelligently. The Government must now take direct action and direct the banks to engage once and for all with customers and to deal with this issue.”
The Fianna Fáil leader concluded: “Up to now, the standard response of the banks has been the interest-only payment approach, comprising 99% of restructures to date. The banks are in complete denial. This crisis will have to involve serious write-downs for people. The banks have been given the money to write-down, write off or restructure debts and it is clear that the Government is going to have to force the banks to act.”