Government must not forget 'My NAMA' in debt crisis
30 March 2010
A not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for the legal rights of indebted consumers called on the government today to strike a balance in its approach to Ireland's debt crisis between bailing out banks and supporting ordinary people who are desperately in need of solutions.
According to legal rights organisation FLAC, the renewed Programme for Government produced in October 2009 showed that the government recognised the extent of the credit crisis in affecting not just the banking sector, but home owners and people in debt also.
According to FLAC Director General Noeline Blackwell, "In that programme, the government committed itself to ensuring better options for mortgage holders, reform of bankruptcy law and a debt enforcement agency. The recently formed expert group, that has assembled government departments, banks, FLAC and others, is intended to draw together a range of solutions to the crisis facing ordinary people and present them to government by summer 2010. It will then be vital that government takes action."
FLAC stresses that a much wider range of solutions is needed for people with mortgages. Says Ms Blackwell, "People with short-term debt problems only need breathing space, whereas others who are hopelessly indebted will need effective bankruptcy laws. Pending permanent solutions, we also need independent oversight of the solutions that lenders are putting forward right now. For example, here in FLAC have come across situations from people who restructured their loans but because the lender at the same time increased mortgage protection payments, they had nearly as much to pay each month anyway."
"FLAC will continue to stress the urgency of the problems of real people. Ireland isn't just an economy, it's a community,a people, and the commitments made to real people will have to be put in place," she concluded.
1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all. It campaigns through advocacy, strategic litigation and authoritative analysis to contribute to the eradication of social and economic exclusion.
2. FLAC published comprehensive proposals on debt law reform in July 2009 in its report, To No One's Credit: http://www.flac.ie/publications/to-no-ones-credit/ (the executive summary is available at http://www.flac.ie/publications/to-no-ones-credit--executive-summary/
3. You can read more about FLAC's work on debt law reform at: http://www.flac.ie/campaigns/current/credit-and-debt-campaign/
The Law Reform Commission published its consultation paper on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement in September containing many proposals around debt: http://www.lawreform.ie/publications/CP%20Debt%20Enforcement.pdf