Belfast Telegraph

Kenny hints at mortgage help scheme

Struggling mortgage holders falling into arrears could be included in a debt forgiveness scheme, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has hinted.

Just a day after Allied Irish Banks revealed it would consider a similar package for homeowners in danger of default, Mr Kenny revealed the government would examine all options of relief.

Official figures from the Central Bank show 45,508 mortgage holders were behind with their payments by 90 days or more at the end of last year - owing 8.6 billion euro - with 6.2 billion euro associated with accounts more than 180 days in arrears.

Mr Kenny told the Dail: "The Government is interested in options to relieve stress on mortgage holders.

"Such options must be treated carefully, would require authorisation and, in some case, legislation, which is an issue that could be discussed here in the House."

AIB - which yesterday announced losses of 10.4 billion euro and a possible 2,000 job cuts - said it was also considering a debt forgiveness scheme for struggling mortgage holders as Irish citizens keep the bank afloat.

Management revealed they are looking at the possibilities for easing pressure on thousands of households after 2010 results showed 1.3 billion euro worth of mortgages in arrears for 90 days or more.

Sinn Fein's Martin Ferris called on the Government to introduce some form of debt resolution to address the growing problem of mortgage arrears.

He said the recent European Central Bank increase in interest rates, along with the current levels of unemployment and wage cuts, would make the figures worse.

"We believe that it is now time to look at possibly writing off some portions of negative equity on properties which are principal family homes, where people are in arrears and their mortgages are clearly unsustainable - and look at mortgages in terms of current house values rather than what they were at the time of purchase when unscrupulous lenders gave massive mortgages to people that they could not repay," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph