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Taoiseach denies putting homes at risk of being repossessed

The Taoiseach also faced questions about the role of public interest directors at Irish banks.

Image: Screengrab

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has  claimed that the Government’s agenda on mortgage arrears is entirely about ‘putting families in further in jeopardy’.

At Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Martin said that the only intervention taken by the Government on the issue had been to facilitate repossessions.

Martin was referring to the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill passed last week by the Dáil which removed legal barriers to repossessions. The Fianna Fáil leader said that this had created a ‘genuine fear that there is to be impending wave of home repossessions’.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny angrily rejected the accusation saying that, “it is not in your keeping to make comments like that”.

The Taoiseach said that the raft of personal insolvency legislation put in place by the Government has put “all the tools in place to meet sustainable solutions” for lender and borrowers.

“Everybody in this country recognises the value of the family home, perhaps more so than any other country,” the Taoiseach said before claiming that insolvency arrangements are designed to be demanding on lenders so that they do not end up in repossessions.

Martin challenged the Government to put further measures in place, including a provision to establish a clear definition on what constitutes a mortgage in arrears.

Public interest directors

The Taoiseach also faced questions from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who pressed him on the exact role public interest directors at Irish banks.

Adams specifically focused on the former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes in his role as public interest director and later chairman at the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank.

He asked whether Dukes had passed on the information about the Anglo Tapes to the Central Bank or Department of Finance after the former minister admitted to knowing about their existence.

Adams  questioned the role of public interest directors saying that although the positions are intended to be in the public interest, “my suspicion is that they’re there to acting in the political interest, to maintain the status quo”.

“We were told they are appointed as watch dogs but clearly they are lap dogs, ” he added.

The Taoiseach rejected Adams characterisation of Dukes saying that not only would he be willing to speak before any banking inquiry but that he is restricted from speaking about some issues in public because of ongoing criminal investigations.

“Alan Dukes, former distinguished minister, is nobody’s lapdog,” Kenny replied.

Read: New law removes legal gap preventing house repossessions

Read: Anglo tapes: Central Bank ‘were effectively egging us on’

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Rónán Duffy

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