Seanad debates

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

2:30 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael)

We all know this is an incredibly difficult time for the country and that the impact is being felt by families across the country. It is important we realise that while, at a macro level, the broad parameters of fiscal policy are being discussed in the Dáil and the Seanad and at the meetings taking place with Commissioner Rehn, the impact of these discussions on ordinary families will be profound. In the research findings issued today we see that people are feeling the impact of the recession in their personal lives. They are concerned about their mortgage repayments and what the future holds for their children. It is very depressing to hear the country being discussed internationally and predictions by Ernst & Young that the level of unemployment will remain above 10% until at least 2018. We do not need these messages. We need to believe there is a more hopeful message. When we see bond interest rates continuing to rise and hear what international news agencies have to say about Ireland, this brings home to us the seriousness of the task we face.

Polling information carried in the media today suggests people are very concerned about being able to repay their mortgages. While this is an issue we have discussed a number of times, it is important we invite the Minister to the House to debate it again. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Ryan, spoke about it last summer; the Minister of State with responsibility for housing has discussed it on a number of occasions, while a number of Senators have had an input into documents on it, including Senator MacSharry. Will the House have an opportunity to discuss this important aspect of the crisis?

I am not sure everyone in the House agrees with Morgan Kelly's sentiments expressed in The Irish Times yesterday, that if we thought the bank bailout was bad, wait until the mortgage defaults hit home. It is a real issue when one hears about the 84 cases heard in court yesterday in which people lost their homes. We have heard of no approach to this problem being adopted by the Government. The House should be briefed by it on the issue as to whether its thinking has advanced and whether it is feasible and the outcome out of the discussions with the banks. It is important this key issue for families is discussed in the House, with the broader issues.

I note again from the Seanad schedule that no legislation will be debated this week. Neither will we have any discussions on the various sectorial areas we said we would discuss. This must be examined for the next two weeks. At this critical time will the Leader examine what will be debated in the House next week and have something different from the statements on the schedule again this week?


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