Deputy O’Brien said, “In response to a Dáil motion on the mortgage crisis today, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan could offer only vague promises of action in the near future.
“The Fine Gael-Labour Programme for Government promises little more than longer moratoria – which will simply push the problem further down the road- and bankruptcy legislation – the date and detail of which is not yet known.
“As of December 2010 almost 45,000 households were in arrears for more than three months. 70 per cent of these households had been in arrears for more than six months. When those households in receipt of Mortgage Interest Supplement are taken into account the total number of people in mortgage distress reaches a staggering 80,000.
“Of course these figures hide the reality of the tens of thousands of families who are not in mortgage arrears but are paying an increasing proportion of their income on servicing boom time mortgages.
“Government policy will only increase the financial hardship of tens of thousands of families across the state, as the coalition implements its plans to introduce stealth taxes such as water charges and property charges at the same time as cutting the wages of low and middle earners.
“We need to consider radical action to help distressed mortgage holders – such as legislation to write off the difference between the purchase price and the current market value for mortgages taken out on primary residences since 2004 up to a value of €500,000.
“This write-off could be limited to 30 per cent of the value of the mortgage, and there would be a claw-back facility where the owner subsequently sold the house at a higher price. Over €70 billion has been spent on bailing out the banks. Surely it is time some help was extended to ordinary homeowners?”