Government will not oppose Fianna Fáil Bill to protect IBRC mortgage holders
McGrath hopes move not a ‘cosmetic exercise’ but intention to act immediately
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan: “The Bill as currently drafted does not provide the full protections of the Central Bank’s Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears to mortgage holders in unregulated financial institutions”. Photograph: Eric Luke
The Government will not oppose Fianna Fáil legislation aimed at maintaining the same legal protections for the thousands of mortgage holders with IBRC whose loans are up for sale.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he fully accepted the principle of the Protection of Residential Mortgage Account Holders Bill but that “the Bill as currently drafted does not provide the full protections of the Central Bank’s Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears to mortgage holders in unregulated financial institutions”.
The Minister said he understood the concerns of mortgage holders in IBRC. “However, this Bill offers no additional protections to the mortgage holders over and above the voluntary agreement that the special liquidators reached last week with the Phase Two bidders for the IBRC mortgage book.”
Mr Noonan reiterated, in a statement before last night’s debate, the Government’s intention to bring forward legislation to offer all mortgage holders in Ireland the full protection of the code of conduct.
Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd told the Dáil said it was in the interest of the buyers of the mortgages to treat their customers in accordance with the code “because their failure to do so may be held against them”.
Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath, who introduced the Private Members’ Bill, said the issue needed to be dealt with immediately, before the sale of the IBRC mortgages next week.
He welcomed the Government’s decision not to reject the Bill, but he said “I sincerely hope that is not just a cosmetic exercise on the part of Government”.
He said this problem was facing about 12,000 IBRC mortgage holders immediately and “could potentially face many more thousand of mortgage holders over the period ahead”.
Robert Troy (FF, Longford-Westmeath) said the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) was at breaking point and the insolvency service was not working. “In the last number of months there have been more bankruptcy cases than insolvency cases,” he said.
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty claimed of the Government that “the next time that you stand up for ordinary taxpayers will be the first time”.
He said: “You don’t even pretend to talk for ordinary taxpayers.”
Mr Doherty said the Cabinet had found enough time to have three days of debate without legislation on the Government’s three years in office but not enough time to legislate to protect mortgage holders. If the Government was genuine about providing the protections for mortgage holders “then it can be done right now”.