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I call on the Acting Leader to provide time for a debate on the mortgage issue. Former President Clinton advised the Government at the Irish Global Economic Forum last year that it needed to tackle the mortgage problem here. All we have seen to date from the Government is activity and no action. It has introduced a personal insolvency Bill which, if the banks had drafted it, we would not be able to tell the difference. Fianna Fáil has proposed real solutions to the problems and issues. To date, 18 months on, the Government still has not taken action. Without action on the mortgage issue there will be no revitalisation of the economy. People are not spending, in particular on luxury items such as cars – I am not sure cars are a luxury item if one needs one to get to work – because they are concerned about mortgages. This is driving down the economy yet there is no action on the part of Government in this regard.
One cannot tackle public sector pay without first solving the mortgage problem because any cuts in this regard would drive public service employees into financial difficulties. Unless the Government takes action and ceases its activity masquerading as action the problem will not be solved. The Government is offering no solutions despite the commitment in this regard in the programme for Government. We need the Government to take action and to do so now. If it does not, the economy will continue to decline, with people continuing to lose work or emigrate. The root cause of our problems at this point is inaction on mortgage issues. We cannot tackle public sector pay and all the other issues which need to be addressed until such time as the root problem has been tackled. People will not spend money on anything until they are secure in their homes. This issue can only be tackled by way of a realistic personal insolvency Bill which tackles the mortgage issue, allowing people to write down debt. We can then revitalise the economy and create jobs and thus retain our young people at home.