Banks must be obliged to resolve debt

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.”

NAMA leasing is not good deal for state or those in need of housing

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has branded the leasing initiative involved in the release of NAMA units for use as social housing as poor value for money and a scheme which will see the state pay twice for housing it will not keep control of.

He made his comments following the Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan’s refusal to address these issues and her claims this was a good deal.

Deputy Ellis said:

“I welcome the prospect of the use of NAMA property for social housing but there are a lot of questions to be answered.

“We are paying out nearly half a billion for Rent Supplement and the Rental Accommodation Scheme which add not one housing unit to the stock of the state or voluntary organisations. And now the state wants to pay twice for NAMA units which it will most likely return to the hands of developers through NAMA in the long term.

Sinn Féin Ballymun Representative Noeleen Reilly further added “The state needs to invest in housing. We need more than a short term band aid solution which is only pushing the lack of social housing forward into the future. We need to support voluntary housing in providing homes and start to actually build and buy homes.

“Leasing has been a failure in terms of provision and value. A lease for 11 years, the average currently, costs roughly 66,000 euros while the average cost of purchasing for social housing is 169,000 euros which serves the state for much longer and provides tenants with security.

“We are in the dark on how this use of NAMA units will work and the progress in assessing the units currently being considered for their suitability as housing. We also must provide for people who require single bedroom units which were lacking in previous agreements between NAMA and voluntary housing units despite huge costs.

“The minister must be clear in these issues, she must demand clarity from NAMA and she must work to insure that whatever is done is sustainable and value for money and not yet another bargain for developers at the expense of the public purse and those in need of housing.”