Seamus Kirk claims that banks have too much power in the personal insolvency legislation, which was launched last week

Deputy Kirk nsaid that while the new legislation represents an opportunity to help the thousands of families in mortgage arrears, it does not go far enough

Deputy Kirk nsaid that while the new legislation represents an opportunity to help the thousands of families in mortgage arrears, it does not go far enough

“This is not a banking issue and the banks should not hold the balance of power,” Deputy Kirk said.

“The new Insolvency Service of Ireland needs to have the capacity to engage with families and mortgage holders and offer relevant advice and importantly be accessible.

“Many of the people I speak to in Louth tell me that the mortgage crisis they face is getting worse not better. Fianna Fáil welcomes the decision to reduce the bankruptcy discharge period to bring it into line with the European norm.

“However, the bill does nothing to break the monopoly the banks have over borrowers and the state. The bill informs us that creditors holding 65 per cent of a person’s debt must agree with the proposed debt settlement arrangement or personal insolvency arrangement. This changes little for mortgage holders and still places them at the mercy of the bank.

“It really does seem that the government’s response to the mortgage crisis is increasingly relying on the good faith of bankers and that is not what the Bill should be about. Mortgage holders in Louth have already expressed to me that there should be an equal balance of power in these negotiations.

“We need an independent debt settlement office. If mortgages become unsustainable, a third party is needed to conduct a comprehensive assessment of that person’s financial position. “Fianna Fail have brought forward sound legislation for such an office, but the government has refused to examine the proposal. I call on them now to take it on board