Government willing to ‘tweak’ insolvency legislation

Minister insisted Government was watching situation in the courts ‘very carefully’

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan  Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

 

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the Government is willing to “tweak” insolvency legislation.

Mr Noonan made his comments in Limerick where some 219 repossession cases were listed before the Circuit Court.

When asked if he could envisage a change in the insolvency legislation happening soon he replied: “We have been discussing it as late as this week. If we had to legislate to make change it would take some time, but there are things we can do through regulation which we think will improve the uptake.”

Mr Noonan said the Government was “very conscious of the issue and it’s the policy of the Government not to have homes repossessed”.

He added that a lot of actions taken by the banks involved “simply sending orders to people who haven’t replied to letters, but I would advise people to engage, once they engage arrangements can be made to come up with affordable solutions.”

“The issue around restructuring of mortgages has been going on for all the life of this Government and over 100,000 mortgages have been restructured now, 2,500 of them in the last month.

“As I understand it, the banks are getting people to engage with them so they can commence negotiations and restructuring rather than moving for repossession.

“But we are watching the situation in the courts very carefully and, we are also watching the way in the insolvency legislation is being applied and if it needs tweaking to improve the uptake we will tweak it.”

Among the cases dealt with by the county registrar Pat Wallace in Limerick was that of a mother of five who agreed to leave her family home after falling into arrears of more than €70,000 following the break-up of her marriage.

The case was adjourned until May 8th.

Fianna Fáil TDs Niall Collins and Willie O’Dea were in court to lend their support to their constituents.

Fine Gael and Labour TDs and Senators expressed concern at separate private party meetings on Wednesday about the effectiveness of existing measures to help those in difficulty with mortgage arrears.

The parliamentary Labour Party unanimously backed a Bill from Longford-Westmeath TD Willie Penrose calling for the period of bankruptcy to be reduced from three years to one.

At the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting Mr Noonan said the Economic Management Council (EMC), which discussed the issue at its meeting on Wednesday, will examine further ways to assist people in mortgage difficulties.

The Insolvency Service of Ireland dealt with approximately 1,000 cases last year but the slow uptake by debtors has led to calls for reform.