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Dáil Speech on Private Members Business on Mortgage Arrears: Wednesday 10th July

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: I hope Deputy Michael McGrath does not take what I have to say personally as my tirade is being launched at his party and organisation.

Deputy Michael McGrath: I thought the Deputy would make a positive speech and talk about solutions.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: I love it when Fianna Fáil brings forward motions because that gives all of us on this side of the House the opportunity to remind the people of the dung heap left behind by Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Michael McGrath: The Deputy is wasting time. He should deal with the substance of the motion.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Fianna Fáil left people in the position in which they find themselves today. I look at it and see it as like a big elephant with a small brain. It can only look ahead and forgets the big pile of dung it has left behind. Invariably, in recent years Fine Gael and the Labour Party have had to clean up after Fianna Fáil and try to sort out the mess. This happened in 1977 when Fianna Fáil introduced an expansionist programme which caused havoc in the 1980s. I am one person who had to leave the country in the 1980s because there were no jobs to be found. In 2011 Fianna Fáil again left the country in a mess. We must examine the position in which the country was left and try to see what positive moves we can make. One of the good things the former Minister, the late Brian Lenihan, made towards the end of his career was to make Mr. Patrick Honohan Governor of the Central Bank. He then selected Mr. Matthew Elderfield as Financial Regulator and he has done great work for the economy. I wish him all the best in his future career.

I want to focus on the problem that occurred, our current position, why we are in a mess and people are still suffering as much as they are. In 2010 when Fianna Fáil was in power, nearly 50,000 people were in mortgage difficulties. What did Fianna Fáil do about this? The reason many of the people concerned were in mortgage difficulties was the policies that had been put in place by Fianna Fáil. We must ensure we do not carry on any of these policies during the party years, between 2000 and 2008. During these years, at the height of the Celtic tiger, people could obtain any type of mortgage they wished. At the height of the Celtic tiger there were almost 380 mortgage packages available. Currently, there are 146. The types of package available at the time included those for first-time buyers and 100% mortgages which were offered, in particular, by companies that had moved into Ireland such Bank of Scotland Ireland. Also available were top-up mortgages, switcher mortgages and a variety of other mortgages available for residential investment properties. We have done our best to put an end to these and the number of packages now available has been reduced to 146. What did Fianna Fáil do to reduce the number of mortgage packages available at the height of the Celtic tiger and try to prevent what happened taking place? We have put a regime in place where nothing like that can happen again.

We should also look at what else happened. Fianna Fáil allowed in excess of 1,200 small mortgage brokers to be established during the period in question. Most of these ended up dealing with sub-prime lenders. One of the problems we now have is that we must deal with sub-prime companies that lent money to people for whom they did not engage in due diligence when offering loans. When we look at one of the schemes we have put in place, the mortgage to rent scheme, we see that it offers people involved in the resolution process a chance to stay in their homes. When we look at the numbers involved, we see that 60 out of 100 home owners applying for this scheme are home owners with sub-prime loans. AIB has only four such loans per 100. Some banks were providing for due diligence, but the problem was that there were too many companies in operation. Sub-prime lending was a practice Fianna Fáil permitted and we have had to sort out that problem and ensure it will not happen in the future.

One other issue I wish to raise relates to housing lists. There are in excess of 5,000 people on the housing waiting list in Kildare. A great scheme was introduced in 2000 by the former Minister, Mr. Noel Dempsey, under Part V of the planning Act which dealt with social and affordable housing. This was a great idea at the time and what happened was that a portion of the huge amount of property being built by private developers was taken over by local authorities. However, many of the people who bought affordable housing at the time are now in trouble because they are paying more for their affordable house than other people in the neighbourhood. This scheme must now be scrapped. Part V no longer offers a workable solution. This year fewer than 10,000 houses will be built. How many of these will come back to the people? We must make dramatic changes. We must get local authorities back in the business of building houses, as we said to the Minister of Finance previously. We must scrap Part V and put in place a new scheme.

It is welcome that we are allowed to speak and remind the people of who caused the mortgage crisis. We are putting in place a variety of schemes to help people to stay in their own homes, unlike what Fianna Fáil did and failed to do when it noticed this was going to happen in 2010. As I said earlier, they are like the big elephant, walking forward, forgetting about the dung heap they left behind.

ENDS