PBPA/ULA TD calls for radical amendment of Personal Insolvency bill as committee stage commences tomorrow
Richard Boyd Barrett submits over 30 amendments seeking removal of bank veto and protection of family home
In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Finance spokesperson for People Before Profit/ULA has said the Personal Insolvency Bill, which commences committee stage in the Dáil tomorrow, needs radical amendment if it is to deal in a fair and economically sustainable manner with the mortgage and personal indebtedness crisis in the country. The Dáil committee on Justice , Defence and Equality will begin at 10am tomorrow.
Deputy Boyd Barrett has submitted over 30 amendments to the Bill seeking the removal of the Bank veto over debt settlement and personal insolvency arrangements and greater protection for the family home. Deputy Boyd Barrett’s amendments also call for the bill to explicitly recognise the exceptional economic circumstances prevailing between 2002 and 2008, which have left tens of thousands of households with unsustainable mortgages and debts. They also call for the bill to acknowledge the culpability of the banks for pumping-up the property bubble and to incorporate an appropriate amount of write-down of debts and mortgages incurred during this period in all debt resolution arrangements.
Deputy Boyd Barrett’s amendments have been tabled on his behalf by Deputy Finian Mc Grath because under Dáil rules only members of the relevant Dáil committee can table amendments for that committee. However Deputy Boyd Barrett is allowed to attend the committee meeting and speak to his amendments, which he will do tomorrow.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “As it stands this bill leaves the whip firmly in the hands of the banks, instead of forcing the banks to deal fairly with mortgage holders and other customers that are the victims of reckless lending policies during the period of the property bubble.
Unless this bill is radically amended it will do very little to provide relief to the more than 160,000 mortgage holders who are currently in financial difficulty. As a result it will also do nothing to remedy the disastrous effect that the mortgage crisis is having on the entire economy.
People who are saddled with unsustainable debts as a result of the property bubble and the criminal gambling of the banks must be given substantial relief if they are going to start spending again in the economy, and that relief should not come at the cost of families losing their homes.
I am proposing that the bill is amended to remove the banks veto over debt resolution arrangements and that family homes are protected.
It is extremely alarming that the EU commission in its latest report on Ireland’s “stability” programme is actually pressuring the government to give more power to the banks to re-possess homes. It’s another clear demonstration of the fact that the Troika are not interested in bailing out the citizens of this country but only in bailing out the banks and speculators whose greed caused the crisis in the first place.
We will see tomorrow and over the coming week or two, in dealing with this bill, whether the government is dancing to the tune of the Troika and the Banks or is genuinely representing the interests of ordinary mortgage holders and citizens. The signs aren’t good.
Mortgage holders and others in financial distress need to start to mobilise on the streets and in other ways pressure the government over the next week or two if they are going to have any chance of forcing the government to do the right thing.
I would strongly urge those who want to see a fair resolution to the mortgage crisis and who want to see our economy recover to come out and demonstrate at the opening of the Dáil on Tuesday September 18th.”