Kenny: Insolvency legislation will only help those genuinely in need

Kenny: Insolvency legislation will only help those genuinely in need

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he he hopes insolvency legislation will be in the Dáil before the summer break, but emphasised that it will only be of benefit to individuals genuinely in distress with their debts.

The Personal Insolvency Bill, when put into law, will give mortgage holders greater flexibility in restructuring their payments and in some cases, could see seriously struggling individuals have debts written off.

It comes after new figures released today by the Central Bank confirmed that more than one in 10 Irish residential mortgage accounts are in arrears of over 90 days, and with Mr Kenny earlier this week having described the mortgage crisis as the single most important issue facing the State.

However, he is insisting the Government will only help those most in need.

"I think I should make it clear that where government assistance will come here is in respect of people who are genuinely in distress and who cannot meet their mortgages."

Meanwhile housing charity Threshold said the new Central Bank figures indicate a grave crisis.

Director of the organisation Bob Jordan accused the Government of delaying plans to help the situation.

He said there was also an urgent need for independent advice for distressed homeowners when dealing with lenders.

“Mortgage arrears have been increasing now for almost four years,” Mr Jordan added.

“The crisis in our housing market is worsening and, yet, the Government continues to delay over implementing effective policies to help the situation.”

He said the Government’s Personal Insolvency Bill should be published as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, New Beginnings, a group of lawyers offering free services to mortgage holders in danger of repossession, criticised the “reckless lending” of banks and financial institutions over the last number of years.

A spokesman said the current crisis did not happen by accident.

“At its heart, the crisis was created by financial institutions, aided by government action, lending recklessly into the residential property market having the singular effect of driving up prices,” he went on.

“This, in turn, meant young families needed to borrow extraordinary sums of money in order to acquire modest homes.”

Meanwhile Fianna Fáil has accused the Government of "sitting on its hands" in relation to the issue

The party's Seanad Finance Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien said the coalition was "paralysed by the scale of the mortgage crisis".

"n the first three months of the year a further 6,685 mortgages fell into arrears of more than 90 days, almost 560 every week," Senator O'Brien said.

“The Personal Insolvency Bill has been delayed and there appears to be no prospect that a new insolvency regime for individual borrowers will be in place before next year.

"The Government and the banks are not doing enough to tackle this crisis and alleviate the pressure on thousands of families across the country," he added.

"This crisis demands leadership and action and the Government has failed to step up to the mark.”

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