Saturday 20 January 2018

If the Government does not stand up to banks on mortgages, they'll pay the price

A staggering 31,000 homeowners are facing repossession, according to the latest figures from the Central Bank.

80,000 or so are in dire distress with arrears of 90 days or more and 16,000 have already lost their home or are in different stages of repossession.

Despite this bleak situation the banks are still refusing to cut their sky-high interest rates on variable rate mortgages. The average variable rate for new customers in Ireland now stands at an extraordinarly high 4.2pc.

These rates are twice as expensive as those across the Eurozone which stand at an average of 2.09pc.


It means that a mortgage-holder here with a €200k loan is currently paying €4,200-a-year or €350-per-month more than homeowners with a similar mortgage in France or Spain.

These banks are the same reckless institutions that, along with our inept politicians and greedy developers, brought the country to the brink of financial armageddon.

They are also the same greedy institutions with their light touch regulation and the sleep-walking regulator who collapsed our economy forcing the Government into introducing the bank guarantee that has cost taxpayers around €60bn.

As a result of the growing anger of mortgage-holders who are struggling to cope with these rates, our Minister for Finance was finally forced into a sit down with the Governor of the Central Bank last Thursday.

After that meeting, Minister Michael Noonan's response was that "the CBI will continue to research why interest rates on variable mortgages are twice as high here as in the rest of the Eurozone".

It looks to me like Mr Noonan has tried to distance himself and wash his hands of the problems by passing the buck to the CBI.

Enda Kenny's response to this scandal is equally feeble and non-committal. He told RTE's Sean O' Rourke last week: "I would expect the banks to pass on the reduction to the consumer. They haven't done so and in my view they should."

I think that was an extraordinarly defeatist comment coming from the Taoiseach of this country.

I agree with the comments of Fianna Fail when they say that banks are engaging in blatant discrimination of these mortgage-holders.


Minister Noonan and Enda Kenny cannot just stand by, behaving as mere concerned onlookers. After all, the State is a major stakeholder in two of these lending institutions who are perpetrating these injustices on mortgage-holders.

These greedy banks should be brought to heel. To me and too many other people it is unacceptable that up to 3,000 innocent mortgage-holders are being fleeced by these heartless bankers who put profit above humanity, compassion and justice.

The bank's brazen attitude towards their customers is intolerable - and totally unacceptable in these times of hardship and austerity.

Make no mistake, unless Noonan and Kenny exert their authority over AIB and the other banks and force them to cut interest rates, an angry, disillusioned and despairing public will give them their response at the next election.

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