Speaking during a debate on the Personal Insolvency Bill, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North West Dessie Ellis welcomed the legislation which he said was long overdue, but said that it was a disappointment to the thousands of families in mortgage distress who were eagerly awaiting it.
Deputy Ellis said:
“There is little doubt that the state, in its cavalier promotion of the bubble and its drive to make homeownership the national obsession, is greatly to blame. This bill, despite its many flaws is at least welcome in the fact that it is a piece of work which seeks to address the serious problem for so many people.”
“It leaves the banks still in a power position and does not properly position the debtor, the citizen, to make arrangements to bring a rational solution to the problem of insurmountable debt. We in Sinn Féin made clear when this bill was proposed that an independent agency must be formed in order to manage the process of debt resolution. This would have to be done in a humane and tailored way.”
“As this bill stands there will be no legal obligation for the banks to accept even the most reasonable of arrangements. This veto will without doubt make this bill in some circumstances completely irrelevant. Indeed with rumblings of a memo stating certain banks won’t accept write downs this seems to be a certainty in many cases.”
“All the well-drafted legislation in the world cannot be of use if there is a very clear get out clause. The reality is that if the banks were going to voluntarily engage in significant debt resolution arrangements then they would have done it. It makes sense for the banks to rationalise and address the inability of many of these mortgages to be paid but they have not done so in sufficient cases to indicate that anything other than an independent binding process is the solution.”