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Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Debt forgiveness

Keane report on mortgages to be published

The Taoiseach has reaffirmed that there will be no blanket write-off for mortgage holders in arrears.

THE KEANE REPORT into the issue of distressed mortgage holders in Ireland will be published today with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny playing down expectations of any radical measures to aid all homeowners in arrears.

The government will announce what measures it plans to help mortgage holders in difficulty in conjunction with the publication of the report which is being produced by a group chaired by the accountant Declan Keane.

The report is expected to be published at 11am today.

RTÉ reports that measures to allow people who are in negative equity to trade down to smaller homes are expected while people whose homes are repossessed will be able to remain in them and rent them back from State body.

However, speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Kenny said in response to a question from Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins: “There will be no automatic blanket write-down.”

He also said: “First, we want alternatives to having people lose their homes. That is a fundamental principle which we want to hold on to. Second, we must distinguish between those who cannot pay and those who will not pay. That must be addressed.”

As of June this year, Ireland has 777,000 residential mortgages worth €115bn. Of these, 40,000, or just over 1 in 20, are in arrears of greater than six months.

Mortgage debt forgiveness has been a topic that has been much discussed in Ireland since it was highlighted by the economist Morgan Kelly in August.

The UCD economist estimated that spending up to €6 billion on allowing people “to walk away from mortgages, would probably solve most of the problem.”

Despite support from fellow economists the government has sought to consistently play down any blanket write-off of mortgage debt with Michael Noonan saying last month that blanket debt forgiveness was “simply not a realistic option”.

Read: 10 things you should know about Ireland’s mortgage debt and arrears >

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