State must prioritise citizen welfare over that of banks

As we know, our nearest neighbour and one of our largest trading partners decided at a referendum last June to exit the EU.

It will the first country since the inception of the original EEC to exit. In doing so, it has generated a myriad of issues that must be resolved before it finally makes its way out.

Officially, it must be fully out by March 2019. However, procrastination and jockeying for position have ensured that the full negotiations for Brexit, as it has been termed, will really not commence until October.

Its exit was masterminded by a very eclectic group, including government politicians, despite the fact that the UK government wished to stay within the union.

I’m sure some of us ask ourselves every so often if we have benefitted to the fullest extent from our membership of the EU. So far it would appear that we are fully behind the EU project but a bad Brexit or the return of the full border between both parts of this island could change the equation considerably.

Notwithstanding, there are still running sores that our government has failed to address except with hype and more hype.

Over the last decade, folk even in reasonably well-paid jobs have found it difficult to get a mortgage.

Their ability to start that journey of owning one’s own home, which is the major ambition of the vast bulk of Irish people, was firstly stymied by horrendously high prices and now by financial-based restrictions on getting access to a loan.

The Central Bank was faced with a number of issues following the recession.

The first was the huge number of individuals defaulting on their mortgage, those trying to hold on but finding paying the interest and capital more and more difficult, and more latterly the need to make sure that those taking out mortgages could actually repay the money they owed.

One of the negative sides of Europe is that any time vested interests in our economy risk being impacted by an EU decision our government looks for and gets a derogation. Vehicle registration tax is an obvious case. Another is that of interest rates where the banks have been permitted to not pass on interest rate cuts that have been passed across other member states.

The banks’ excuse, supported by government and mandarins alike, is that we must have a strong banking system.

Keeping the banks’ margins on interest considerably higher than European banks is claimed as helping to improve the banks’ bottom line and liquidity faster.

Unfortunately, though, this is the same banking system which brought us to the sorry state from which we have still not fully exited.

This is the banking system which cost our taxpayers and our economy tens of billions of euros.

And this is the banking system that continues to pay its senior staff and alleged risk takers most handsomely. It is also the banking system which shows little compassion to those debtors in trouble.


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