Government Progress Report: Vow to act on mortgage debt crisis

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Tánaiste Joan Burton as they presented the 'Government Progress Report on Recovery' at GovernmentBuildings yesterday. Picture: Leah Farrell

Moves to deal with the mortgage crisis were promised by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he insisted the Government had much to be proud of after four years in power.

Marking the anniversary of forming a Coalition with Labour in 2011, Mr Kenny said the option of reducing the bankruptcy period to one year would be looked at as a way of pushing banks into cutting more deals with distressed homeowners.

“It is something we can consider.

“Obviously it might spur the banks on to a more expeditious decision. The banks don’t get anything, or very little, in the case of bankruptcy.”

Following strong criticism from the opposition that the Government had failed to head-off a looming repossession crisis, the Taoiseach said new measures would be announced next month. Mr Kenny said the initiative would focus on the “still unacceptably large numbers of families” in long-term mortgage arrears facing eviction.

“More cases could be resolved by the Insolvency Service, and it is right to expect that the proportion of debt deals being accepted by creditors should increase. It is about giving people the greatest number of options to come to a solution.”

As the country moves into election year, Mr Kenny used the occasion to launch a major attack on Fianna Fáil as the reason fro the mortgage crisis. “The arsonists who set fire to our homes are now offering advice on how to extinguish the flames,” Mr Kenny said.

The Taoiseach insisted the Coalition had moved to build recovery at home while reducing the State’s debt burden abroad.

However, Fianna Fáil ridiculed the 88-page annual report, saying it set out a false picture of Government policy and achievement as Mr Martin accused the Taoiseach of “insulting people”.

Tánaiste Joan Burton again pushed the idea of reducing the bankruptcy period to one year as outlined in new legislation being proposed by Labour backbencher Willie Penrose.

Ms Burton said the criteria for the mortgage to rent scheme could be widened.

The Government’s overwhelmingly positive annual report only listed two “commitments under review” where it had failed to bring in promised reform, these referred to the failure to create an international hub for humanitarian supplies at Shannon Airport, and failure to ensure that the Sports Council was elected.

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