Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week warned the banks to repay the thousands of people ensnared in the tracker mortgage scandal “and apologise”.
But by yesterday, he was sounding much tougher: “I want to state that the Government will take further actions if we don’t see further progress and much more quickly, whether that’s through enhanced powers for the central bank or increased taxation imposed on the banks.”
His performance as Taoiseach so far has matched his performance as health minister — underwhelming.
Many of us had heard in the previous few days the harrowing stories of people who had been badly affected by the scandal. Some had lost their homes and some had lost their health because of the actions of the banks.
Despite all this, the banks are playing hard to get and still taking their time to resolving the issue.
The banks constantly claim that there are no cartels in operation but it is hard to accept this as the whole truth when it is clear that most of the banks had removed customers from their tracker mortgages.
It raises the question: If the banks believe that they hold all the cards, do they also think that they cannot be touched?
When the economy turned, the banks discovered that the margins on trackers were less profitable than they would have liked. But customers had signed up for mortgages on the basis of affordability. Then along came the banks and insisted on cajoling customers to transfer to more expensive loans.
When the banks’ antics came to light in 2015, the Central Bank ordered the lenders to trawl through their loan books. Years later, the numbers affected have risen dramatically. Many more are waiting for compensation or some sort of redress. The Government has simply paid lip service.
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