Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Committee on Budgetary Oversight
Inflation: Discussion (resumed)
I thank the Governor of the Central Bank and Dr. Cassidy for being here this evening. It is important to have this type of engagement and I appreciate their time, as do all the other members. As a small businessperson, as well as a politician, I like to think that I and my other colleagues are acutely attuned to the world of finance and the different pressures and complexities that it brings. As a person who has been borrowing money since I was 18 or 19 years of age, I am becoming acutely aware of how difficult it is, even for an established person, to borrow money and have access to funds.
I judge everything by how I see it and what I see going on close to me. If a person such as me and my close friends locally are having difficulty in accessing borrowed funds, not massive but ordinary amounts of money, where does that leave the young couple of today? That is the young boy or girl who is making friends or starting out on his or her own or as part of a couple and looking to borrow to try to get on the property ladder or to get a loan for a small or medium sized business to get a bit of a leg up. If what I would call established people find it difficult, how in the name of God will young people find it? How are they supposed to manage? How are they supposed to get on in life?
As a politician, I feel so bad every day that young people are being held back and not being given the opportunity. Everybody talks about how bad the 1980s and 1990s were, but at that time people could walk into a bank, look at a bank manager and sell themselves the bank manager, if the witnesses know what I mean. Bank managers had autonomy to lend if they liked the look of someone and thought that person was a worker who would knuckle down in life and do what needed to be done to get on. When I say "get on", I do not mean anything big or fancy but getting on in paying a mortgage. Is that not a great achievement for a young couple? That is getting on.
However, so many obstacles are being put in the way of young people today. When I meet people in banking circles and in that way of life, the first thing I always ask is what in the name of God they are doing with all the money. Why are bankers not being more understanding? Why are Governments not doing more? It could be said that that is our job, but I like to think people from all parties, be it Sinn Féin, or all the other people doing a lot of work in housing and the banking sector - I heard Deputy Doherty speaking earlier on and asking questions - are really putting their shoulder to the wheel. Many politicians are pulling their weight, but I would love to think the banks are pulling their weight and I would like to think the banks' hearts are in the right place in supporting our young people.
If we give young people a chance and give them a loan or mortgage when they are looking for one, of course things might not work out for some people and they will fail, but businesses fail. Individuals do not have the luxury of not failing either. Things can go wrong in anybody's life, but I would like to think of people being given the chance. All I want for the young boys and girls of today is for them to be given an opportunity and that we have a banking sector that is kind and understanding. I also want a Government that would be kind and understanding to young people. We only get one chance at life. We only get to live once and I want people to have the same opportunities.
I do not want it to be the case that people have to be awful lucky to get on. It should not be that way. If people are determined and knuckle down to the job of living, they should be given the same opportunities as everybody else. It is up to them then to make their way. Banks play a significant role in people's lives. Can we imagine the young 18 or 19-year old of today getting scrubbed up and walking into the bank, asking for the manager and saying he or she wanted a loan? For God's sake, the manager would not talk to him or her. The manager will hardly talk to us, never mind a young person starting out.
The Chairperson knows I do not ever want to rabbit on. I just want to make my little point. That is all. I hope I am making it as clear as I can. I ask that young people be given a chance.