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Sunday 18 November 2018

'Banks should put right tracker scandal - by yesterday', says Leo

Leo Varadkar in Cork
Leo Varadkar in Cork

Leo Varadkar revealed he has a tracker mortgage as he angrily revealed that he believes the deadline for Irish banks to reimburse people they had wrongly taken off such house purchase arrangements should have already passed.

Speaking as the Cabinet staged its first meeting in Cork in 12 years, the Taoiseach hit out at the appalling manner in which banks had treated some customers.

His comments came after tracker mortgage holders who had been wrongly taken off the special lending rate addressed the Oireachtas.

The Irish Mortgage Holders Association (IMHA) warned that the tracker scandal was the single biggest consumer rip-off in the history of the State.

Some of those wrongly taken off tracker mortgages said their physical and mental health had suffered as they faced massively increased payments as a result.

A total of 20,000 cases have so far been identified, but it is believed the final total could be as many as 30,000.

"I am not sure if we have any plans to set a date or deadline or whether we can even do that within the powers that we have as a government," the Taoiseach said.

"But, as far as I am concerned, the date should be yesterday.

"Any bank, whether it is partly owned by the State or not, [that] took people off tracker mortgages incorrectly should put that right and should have put that right yesterday.

"They should repay what is owed, offer an apology and pay compensation."

He went on to reveal his own experience. "I am somebody that has a tracker mortgage and in many ways it has been a God-send," he said.

"It has meant that my mortgage has been very affordable in years gone by. I can only imagine what it would have been if it had been 4pc or 5pc or 6pc."

Mr Varadkar noted that some people have suffered very badly as a result of the banks' wrongful actions.

Traumas

"There are many people and many families driven to distraction and endured enormous mental health traumas amid fears of what will happen to their families. Those things should never have happened."

Mr Varadkar's comments came a day after homeowner Thomas Ryan told the Oireachtas Finance Committee he had a stroke at the age of 47 and his wife had a nervous breakdown after Permanent TSB took away his tracker rate.

"My family have suffered enormously," he said.

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