Spinning to Mislead on Repossessions in The Dáil

Analysis by Paddy Healy

State Owned Banks, AIB, EBS,PERMANENT TSB, are seeking repossession of homes by court order throughout the country.

Seamus Healy TD  recently asked Minister for Finance Michael Noonan in the Dáil to instruct these banks to desist from this.

Mr Noonan refused and stated that  “In a very extreme situation, the issue is being handled reasonably well by the banks.”

In the course of his reply Minister Noonan quoted figures from a Central Bank report which stated that in Quarter 3(July, August, September)  207 properties were repossessed on foot of a court order. “The idea that tens of thousands of houses are being repossessed is just not correct” he said.

This statement is entirely deceptive though there is nothing technically incorrect in it. It is not just that he attempts to minimise the awful trauma for 207 families which are losing their homes. A key tactic of the “spinner to deceive” is the omission of key information.

Noonan’s 207 court orders for repossession are for 1 month only!!! Circuit courts do not sit in August and September. Hence the “Quarter 3” figures are for the month of July only!

The full information provided by the Courts Service and reported by Kitty Holland in the Irish Times Last November is: ” Of the 1,088 court orders for repossession made in the three quarters of 2015 up to September 30,  758 were for primary homes, 131 were for buy-to-lets and 199 were for “other” dwellings”. “-Irish Times

Courts Service: Repossession Orders in Circuit Courts 2015

Q1       314,   Q2   586,  Q3   188

There was a huge increase in possessions in the April to June period. Mr Noonan omits this information, and picks the figure for Q3 which he then implies is typical though it contains one month( July)  figures only! The reason the Central Bank figure for Q3 (207) is slightly above the Courts Service figure (188) may be that the Central Bank figure contains High Court orders in addition to the Circuit Court orders supplied by the Courts Service.

In time honoured fashion “Spinner Noonan”, to cover his tracks claims that it is others who are misrepresenting the situation! The idea that tens of thousands of houses are being repossessed is just not correct” he said. Additionally, this allows him to suggest that the repossession problem is really minimal and not nearly as bad as is being represented.

No journalist or serious person has spoken about “tens of thousands” of repossessions. 1,088 orders in the first 3 quarters of 2015 is already a disastrous figure!!!

For example,  Kitty Holland, Irish Times Nov 12, 2015. says

: “Banks have sought to repossess almost 4,500 homes  since the start of the year up toSeptember 30, the latest figures from the Courts Service of Ireland indicate”-Kitty Holland, Irish Times Nov 12, 2015.

This is in line with the Central Bank Report: During the third quarter of 2015, legal proceedings were issued to enforce the debt security on private dwelling house mortgages in 1,687 cases (Central Bank Report).

Noonan invents the “tens of thousands” in order to minimize a problem which is in fact already disastrous-“the oldest trick in the book” of the spinner.

STATE DIRECTION OF BANKS IS UNTHINKABLE!-Noonan 

The right of human beings to stay in their own homes is a most important right. The vast majority of people in mortgage difficulty are entirely blameless for their own predicament. They were setting up homes at a particular time. They may have had to move jobs or have been transferred in their job at a particular time. They were failed by the state and by its organs such as the central bank and the financial regulator and by the government of the day.

But Mr Noonan believes that there are superior rights and superior interests and that the vindication of the rights of householders to stay in their own home  is a secondary consideration even if families must be placed in hotel rooms or hostels and may be dispersed.

Mr Noonan: “Notwithstanding the fact that the State is a shareholder in these institutions, I must ensure that these banks are run on a commercial and independent basis to ensure the value of the banks as an asset to the State”

Finance Minister Noonan has already made clear his intention to sell the state owned banks to private investors. Clearly, he is concerned to maximise the sale value of the banks.

Mr Noonan voted in the Dáil to compensate in full international investors who risked their funds in Irish Banks. Money was borrowed from international financiers to pay this compensation. Now Minister Noonan and the FG/Labour Government are using the banks to collect money originally paid to international investors in the same banks from the Irish population. Accordingly, Banks are allowed to charge interest rates to all Irish borrowers which are well above average rates in other European countries within the Eurozone. The value of houses in Ireland has now risen. Hence the huge rise in repossessions between Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 of 2015.

The Priority of Government is that the banks “be fattened up for privatisation”

Mr Noonan also tries to give the impression that he has no power to give instructions to state owned banks.He says:  “There is a relationship framework, signed by my predecessors in office, with the banks and the essential component is that the political side will not interfere in commercial decisions “

Many listening may have got the impression that Mr Noonan had no power to instruct the government owned banks. The old omission trick! Mr Noonan omitted the words “voluntary” from “voluntary relationship framework”  -And he blames his “predecessors”-Fianna Fáil- as well!

The truth is that Mr Noonan can withdraw from the “relationship framework” at any time. He has taken a political decision to continue to honour it-and to allow the banks to evict Irish families!

He then drags up the notion that stopping state owned banks from evicting people would lead to people “applying to their local TD for a loan” and that the notion of state owned and directed banks was preposterous! Of course there have been state owned banks in Ireland for decades and there have been such in other European countries for even longer. There are well tried mechanisms for dealing with the problem of people applying to politicians for loans.

Noonan uses the image to cover up the responsibility of the government for evicting people on the one hand and extorting money to pay off international lenders from mortgage holders and small businesses on the other.. Pontius Pilate Lives!!!

Mortgage Arrears Problem is Being Solved Progressively-Noonan

Noonan gives the impression that the mortgage arrears problem is being progressively solved through helpful measures put in place by his government. The truth is that the problem of the banks is being solved by repossessing homes and extending mortgages at exorbitant interest rates for a greater number of years.

Crafty Capitalist Representative

Michael Noonan is a very crafty political representative of the Irish super-rich, Irish big business and of foreign big business. He is a master of spinning to mislead. He is assisted in this by the editorial writers and by the media political and economic correspondents. It would be simple for these to expose him but they have a vested in not doing so!

In fairness Kitty Holland in the Irish Times has accurately reported the rate of actual repossessions and court applications for repossession and columnist Fintan O’Toole has exposed Noonan’s “Tommy Cooper”style deception on tax equity in favour of the very rich. (See: Poorest People Most Highly taxed  on my Blog: paddyhealywordpress    )

 

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