Responding to the news of Etihad Airways interest in buying the state’s 25% stake in Aer Lingus Dublin North TD and Aer Lingus SIPTU Shop Steward Clare Daly said:
“The proceeds of any sale like the sale of other state assets are intended purely to clear the private debt the state has taken on. The final sums the 25% stake in Aer Lingus might fetch at this juncture would barely make a dent in that colossal debt.
“The rationale behind the government maintaining a stake in Aer Lingus, we were told, was that regardless of the fact it has become an essentially private interest it was of strategic importance to our island economy. If that was the case at the time of the previous sell off of shares I ask the government what has change?
“It is clear to me and to anybody else familiar with the airline industry the Etihad’s interest in Aer Lingus lies not with maintaining and expanding routes between Ireland and the rest of the world but rather Aer Lingus’s 23 Heathrow slots which they would like for trans Atlantic routes.
“Such an outcome would come at the cost of jobs. My colleagues in Aer Lingus will have to ready themselves for further battles in the months and years ahead. The sell off of the government’s stake in Aer Lingus is a final chapter in a story of economic treason which workers in other commercial semi states should draw lessons from when the government comes after them .”
No repossessions – No Evictions – bail out Home OwnersPress statement 12/10/2011
Expert Group report on mortgage crisis could have been drawn up by the banks.
We note that the banks have welcomed the Keane Report on the mortgage crisis and it is no wonder. There is no criticism of their role in creating the crisis, and no criticism of how they are
responding now to the problems of distressed home owners.
There is no mention of the role of sub-prime lenders or proposals to regulate their activities, or indeed of the ‘financial advise agencies’ who are moving in like sharks to profit from the problems people face in managing their debts. It is our view that such companies and sub-prime lenders should be barred from operating in Ireland.
The whole tone and direction of this report very firmly comes down on the side of the banks and the status quo. To quote from the report, ” there is no entitlement to a particular solution and solutions have consequences – there are unsustainable situations and unfortunately it is inevitable that people will lose their homes…”
The idea that these very limited proposals will simply be ‘guidelines’ for the banks is a joke. There is widespread anecdotal evidence that the banks regard following such guidelines, such as the existing guidelines from the Central Bank as a formality. There is little real engagement with home owners in difficulty.
If the government accepts this report as the basis of its response to a crisis affecting
thousands of families, its commitment to keep people in their homes is merely an empty phrase, yet another broken promise.
The Defend Our Homes League will continue to campaign for real solutions to this crisis. We will use peaceful protest to prevent evictions. Please see below our submission to the expert group for details of our proposals.
Contact – Joan Collins TD 086 3888151- David Hall-087 7775577 – Caroline Lennon – 087 9931201.
Submission to the inter-departmental group on mortgage arrears from the Defend our Homes League. 11-09-09
The Defend our Homes League came from an initial meeting at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin this July. The meeting was organised by United Left Alliance TDs. Joan Collins, Joe Higgins, Seamus Healy, Clare Daly, and Richard Boyd Barrett; and supported by Catherine Murphy TD, Mick Wallace TD,
Luke Flanagan TD, Maureen O’SullivanTD, Thomas Pringle TD, Finian McGrath TD, and John Halligan TD. The meeting was also supported by legal group New Beginning, and Irish Home Owners Unite.
Our aim is to organise home owners on a national basis to keep people in their homes, to stop repossessions and to prevent evictions. We believe that this has to be the priority of government policy.
We reject any notion that there is a so called ‘moral hazard’ in assisting home owners who were forced into buying family homes at hugely inflated prices as a result of a property bubble brought about by the greed of bankers and developers with the assistance of previous governments. There is no moral hazard in assisting those who have lost their jobs or businesses or otherwise are experiencing a sharp drop in income as a result of the economic crisis whose severity is in large part due to the collapse of the property bubble.
A recent Central Bank report shows the scale of the crisis that is developing for many home owners. There are 777,321 mortgages on private residential properties in the Republic, with a total value of 115 billion euro. Of these 55,763 are over 90 days in arrears or 7.2% of the total.
In addition 69,837 mortgages have been restructured, of which 39,395 are not in arrears. This means that around 100,000 mortgages( including restructured and now back in arrears) are in trouble to some degree and the trend is upwards.
The state owned banks, AIB, TSB, EBS and nationwide hold about 70billion of the overall mortgage market of 143 billion. BOI has a further 28 billion, Ulster Bank 22billion and Bank of Scotland 10billion.
We believe that there are essentially four groups who need urgent action on their behalf by the government. Those who are in arrears and need short to medium term assistance until their financial circumstances improve, those who wish to surrender their mortgages and become tenants, those in negative equity, and those who have had their homes repossessed but still have substantial and unpayable debts.
In terms of the first group we support the idea of a state agency -maybe MABS or something similar-acting as an independent assessor of peoples’ ability to pay. We are absolutely opposed to any ‘solution’ based on the banks making these decisions. This agency should have the power to recommend either interest only payments, reduced payments with an extension of the mortgage, or regular payment below interest only if necessary.
Secondly there must be an option for those who no longer wish to be saddled with huge debt to surrender their mortgage and have any negative equity written off. They should also have the option of remaining in their home as tenants with the rent set at ability to pay. Alternatively they may seek social housing elsewhere and should be entitled to do so.
This option may involve 5 to 10% of those in difficulties, about 5,000 to 10,000 people, and the cost of the debt write off would be within the default calculations already factored into the recapitalisation of the banks.
Those who have already lost their homes should also have any outstanding balance of debt written off.
Finally there is the problem of negative equity. The ESRI report by D. Duffy in October 2009 suggested that in a worst case scenario there could be around 175,000 first time buyers in negative equity, amounting to an estimated 13 billion euros. If the banks had been nationalised at the start of this crisis, and reorganised and recapitalised at a fraction of the 100 billion thrown at them so far, a write down of mortgages to relate to actual house values today, or a write down to 120% or so of the market value, would have been entirely feasible. This would help those in negative equity and also provide a stimulus for the domestic economy as people would have more to spend. We believe that the government should ensure work is undertaken to determine the cost of such a write down over the course of the next months.
We also believe Subprime lenders should be taken out of housing market.
Their loan books should be taken over by state. The high Interest rates they have been charging should be reduced to lowest current level. In addition there should be a state clampdown on loan shark money lenders such as Moneyvillage.
We also are for a general interest rate freeze. free legal aid for home owners before the courts and for suitable NAMA properties to be made available to dramatically increase social housing stock.
Joan Collins TD and Clare Daly TD on behalf of the Defend Our Homes League.
There is no doubt that it is a little cynical of Fianna Fáil to table this motion and wax lyrical about the further closure of Army barracks when the party stood over the destruction of 11 barracks in the last decade of its reign. However, that is not an excuse to allow this Government to deflect attention from or escape responsibility for this serious attack. I oppose the closure of more Army barracks throughout the country.
I am from an Army background. I was reared beside the Curragh Camp and there is no question about the stimulus the Army provided to the local economy. It was absolutely vital and essential. It would be total lunacy on the part of this Government to ignore the role of the State in achieving balanced regional economic development, especially at a time of austerity and job losses. When many rural communities are being decimated in that regard, the role of the State is even more important. The towns involved are the towns where people bought homes for record prices during the boom. They are now in serious negative equity but they are shackled there through 30 and 40 year mortgages.
Another reason I consider this issue very serious is based on my experience of living beside areas where the closure of an Army barracks was handled poorly, particularly Magee Barracks in Kildare. It was closed over a decade ago but it has been an utter disaster. Closed without a plan, the barracks are lying derelict after being scavenged and looted. It is an eyesore for residents and a haven for anti-social behaviour. We must consider the current decision to close more barracks against the backdrop of our experience to date.
While it might have been possible to secure alternative viable uses for the barracks during the boom, those days are gone. These are potentially valuable State resources and nothing should be done to jeopardise them. There is no basis for an alternative use and no logic has been put forward to support that argument. Those facilities must be protected and the best way to do that is by maintaining them in use. The Government has not explained the purpose of its decision or the advantage in further closures. No evidence has been submitted.
The Government says this is not about reducing numbers in the Army, but one must seriously question that. It clearly will not improve morale or soldiers’ conditions. Instead, the 200 soldiers from Mullingar and the 140 from Cavan will be fighting with the ones who have already been transferred from Longford for accommodation in Athlone, even though the taxpayer has paid to upgrade the facilities, accommodation, roads, gymnasium and so forth in the facility from which they are moving. It is absolute lunacy. In addition, they will be forced to travel to Athlone each day when there is no viable bus service and against the backdrop of decimated pay and conditions on foot of the austerity that has been unleashed on public service workers.
Clearly, families will have to move out of the areas and towns in which they live. That will have a major impact on schools, local businesses and so forth. No viable reason been put forward, nor is there any identifiable alternative use. The only figure I have seen is a net saving of €200,000 in the case of Mullingar. That is a pittance; it would not even cover a banker’s bonus or offset the cost of securing the barracks. It is ludicrous. In fact, it will cost money. It will certainly cost the towns money and result in more jobs losses because personnel do not have the money to spend in the local economies. This lunacy must stop. The Government must see sense.
Our armed forces personnel need trade union rights. I salute the efforts of the Army wives who have highlighted this. I voted for an Army wife in the first election in which I voted. However, PDFORRA and the Army personnel should not have to rely on their spouses to articulate their cause. They deserve trade union rights so they can defend their jobs and conditions like every other worker. Full debate.