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Enda Kenny in the Dáil this morning Screengrab
Leaders' Questions

Personal insolvency agency to open 'early in the summer' - Taoiseach

Enda Kenny told the Dáil that he was not happy with the banks’ level of resolution of cases where customers are in mortgage arrears.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said that he expects the new personal insolvency agency will open its doors “early in the summer” and hopes that between now and then banks will engage with mortgage holders who are in arrears.

Kenny told the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions that he was not pleased with the level of distressed mortgages being resolved by the banks and said that offering interest-only arrangements was not a sustainable solution.

He suggested that in some cases debt write downs should be considered.

“I’m not happy at all with level of resolution that’s been involved here,” Kenny told the Dáil this morning as he was pressed on the matter by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Martin told the Dáil that the number of mortgages in some form of distress in Ireland – which he put at 180,000 – was “truly a national emergency that demands a significant response”.

Kenny said that the new personal insolvency bill – which most notably reduces the term of bankruptcy from 12 years to three – had been passed into law and that the state agency responsible for helping people manage their debt “will open its doors early in the summer”

He said that it was his hope that between now and then that banks will “get on” with dealing with mortgage holders who are in arrears and said that write downs should be considered in some cases.

“Issues that were raised here in the house following the Keane report [on mortgage arrears, published in 2011] have been followed through and implemented but not to the extent that one would wish in terms of the different resolution strategies,” Kenny said.

He added that the Central Bank required lenders to submit options they propose to deal with those in mortgage distress including split mortgages, trade-down mortgages, and restructuring of debt.

Patrick Honohan: ‘Household financial distress is at unprecedented levels’

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