Noonan to call in lenders to discuss mortgage rate cuts

Minister welcomes Ulster Bank move to engage customers

Kathryn Hayes in Limerick

The Minister for Finance Michael Nooan has revealed plans to call in six of the country’s main mortgage lenders to discuss reducing interest rates.

Speaking in Limerick earlier Mr Noonan said the Governmor or the Central Bank is currently reviewing the cost of mortgages to banks.

“I’ve had consultations with the governor of the Central Bank and he has done a piece of analysis to show the margin between the cost of money and what they’re getting for money when they lend it for mortgages, and he has that for me in the next 10 days or so.


The Minister is then expected to meet with the main lending institutions to discuss the report.

"I'm calling in the senior management of the six major lenders in the mortgage market in Ireland and I'll present them with the evidence from the Central Bank and I'll say look, we think you should reduce your interest rates, and we want to discuss it, and we want you to explain why you can't but we'd prefer if you did.

“So if you call that pressure, that’s pressure but I’d see it as a discussion in the normal way, but I don’t have legal authority to direct.”

Meanwhile, the Minister for Finance has welcomed the initiative by Ulster Bank to try to get customers to engage with the lender.

The bank says it will “look sensitively” at what is reasonable for a customer to repay each month and if terms are agreed it will not seek to repossess homes.

If the home is sold and the borrower qualifies for social housing, Ulster Bank will not chase them for the residual debt.

About 2,000 Ulster Bank mortgage arrears customers who have yet to engage with the bank about a possible restructuring of their loan are to receive a new communication urging them to talk to the bank.

Ulster Bank has sent a one-page note to customers with six “commitments” on how the borrowers will be treated should the

This includes a commitment that their homes will not be repossessed if revised repayment terms can be agreed and offers the possibility of residual debt being written off in the case of voluntary sales.

But it also warns customers who are more than 90 days behind with their payments that they could face legal action to have their homes repossessed if they do not engage with the bank, which is a subsidiary of British lender Royal Bank of Scotland.

Speaking in Limerick earlier the Minister for Finance said it was a welcome initiative.

“I thought it was a very interesting and from my point of view welcome initiative. We’re working at present on adding to the menu of options for the banks in their relationships with people with impaired mortgages.”

“110,000 mortgages have been reconstructed using the menu of options there now and they’ve been satisfactorily reconstructed. but we know now that as you come down to the very difficult cases at the end, other options are necessary, and I welcome this initiative from Ulster Bank. It’s another option and I hope it will work.”

Minister Noonan said the government is planning to put other options on the table for the residue of the most “difficult cases”.

“In the next couple of weeks the government, after consulation with the banks, will be putting additional options on the table to deal with the residue of the most difficult cases which haven’t been resolved already.”