Gilmore calls for ban on house repossessions


House repossessions should be off-limits for at least two years in order to help beleaguered homeowners cope during the recession, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore has said.

Addressing delegates at the Labour Party national conference in Kilkenny last night, Mr Gilmore called for a stimulus plan to kick-start the economy. He also used his speech to criticise Fianna Fáil over its willingness to allow "the worst form of vulture capitalist" to invest in Irish banks.

Mr Gilmore said trust and confidence were paramount in helping the country get back on its feet again.

"If the taxpayer can go guarantor for the banks, then we must have a guarantee for families. A guarantee that, for the duration of this recession, no family will lose their home.

"There are many ways it can be done, but the principle is simple. If we can bail out the bankers and protect the property developers, then for two years at least, foreclosure and repossession should be off limits.

The one thing we all fear, even more than losing our job, is losing our home. And we will not rebuild this economy on a foundation of fear. We will rebuild it on trust. Because from trust, comes hope. From hope comes confidence. And confidence is the most powerful economic stimulus of all."

The Labour Party leader said that things could not continue as they had and claimed that the era of Thatcher, Reagan and Bush, must join the PDs in the "dustbin of history".

"Right-wing economics and cautious, conservative politics cannot adjust now to a global scene that has utterly changed. Now is the time to create something new and better.

"Now is the time to build a new economy. Where prosperity and growth can go hand in hand with a fair society. Where protecting the environment is not seen as a drag on growth, but a generator of new jobs.

"Now is the time to replace the ignorant notion that greed is good, with the ideal of the common good."

Mr Gilmore accused the Government of being asleep on the job in not recognising the economic downturn and said that it was the Labour Party alone which had argued for State intervention to boost the economy.

He claimed the key to getting out of recession was not down to how much the Government can cut, but what it could create. He also called for Ireland to follow in the footsteps of the European Commission, the Labour Government in Britain and US president-elect Barack Obama in introducing a stimulus plan.

He added that the National Training Fund and the National Pension Reserve Fund, backed up by short-term borrowing would enable people a number of projects to begin which would not only put people back to work, but would also leave Ireland well-positioned once the global economy picks up again.

The Labour Party leader insisted that while times are difficult at present, Ireland could be led out of recession by "the actions of good government, by wise political leadership, but above all, by bold and imaginative new thinking."

"There is a way out of these tough times. There is a way to save jobs and to get business moving again; a way to get people back to work; a way to re-boot and stimulate the economy."

"Turning the tide is about creating more jobs and businesses. Sector by sector, we can generate activity, invest in education and skills, and get people back to work."

Mr Gilmore also used his speech to reiterate the party's call for a dedicated National Fund to extend credit to small business and also said that while he respected the result of the Lisbon Treaty referendum in July, the consequences of this were that Ireland was losing influence in Europe at a time when it was most needed.

The Labour Party conference continues today. Delegates will debate motions on the Lisbon Treaty, foreign policy, human and civil rights organisations and the rural economy.

A motion proposed by the national executive of the party calls on the Government to publish a promised policy on the future of the Irish language before Christmas, to enable a major debate on the language and the Gaeltacht to take place in the Oireachtas in January.

Another motion calls on the Government to comply with international law obligations to implement special temporary measures to promote women in politics.