Families struggling in mortgage misery have not been given the help they deserve by the Government, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore admitted.
The remark was the standout admission of failure in a one-year report card produced by ministers, which was otherwise dismissed as an empty PR stunt by the opposition.
Mr Gilmore indicated householders swamped with debt had been let down in a “frustrating” fashion due to the scale of the crisis.
“I would say that dealing with the issue of distressed mortgages has proven far more complex and involved that we anticipated, and progress has been frustratingly slow. Today we have a plan in place and the task now is to drive ahead with implementing it.”
It was a rare moment of self-awareness in a day of back-slapping that saw the Taoiseach and Tánaiste pose on the steps of Government Buildings to proclaim the Coalition had made a solid start and “pulled the country back from the edge of a cliff” and “transformed” its international standing and stabilised the economy.
Despite promises to produce score cards for individual ministers, Enda Kenny instead produced a bland document which did not even break down Government successes by department, but under four, catch-all headings, such as “fairness”.
Mr Kenny strongly denied he was “blowing his own trumpet” and insisted the annual report was a “business-like” attempt to put Government progress in perspective.
Independent TD Finian McGrath dismissed the exercise as the actions of a “happy-clappy Taoiseach” who deserved a C rating, while the rest of the Government had earned a D-minus score card. Sinn Féin also criticised the move as a PR stunt and said the Government would be judged on the length of the dole queues.
Of the 37-page report, 36 are given over to commitments it says have been delivered on, while just one shows those “under review” — either dropped or put on the back-burner.
Among those listed under this heading are: failure to abolish upward-only rent reviews; burden-sharing for unguaranteed and unsecured senior bond holders; VAT exemption for companies that export more than 90% of their output; introduction of a single business tax for micro enterprises, and the development of DIT’s Grangegorman campus.
The Taoiseach insisted the people would be the judges of his “A Class” ministers at the next election. Asked if he intended to sack any ministers, the Taoiseach replied: “Well, you would be surprised.”
Mr Kenny insisted Coalition relations were good and “perceived personality clashes” were an irrelevance as the Government tackled its agenda.
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