06/05/15 Senator Daly speaks to the Seanad on the Appointment of Receivers

Senator Daly: The amendment put down by the Government side is at variance with what Senator Conway has just spoken about, however. It states “there is no compelling evidence that this sector requires the introduction of regulations to govern the conduct of receivers”. There was the case of Paul O’Shea in County Kildare where the receivers had Alsatian dogs and wore balaclavas. This was reminiscent of what the RIC, Royal Irish Constabulary, did when it evicted people 100 years ago.

—-Later—-

Senator Daly: This is not an isolated incident; this is what happening now. This long-term solution is not a solution.

When the Minister for Justice and Equality brought in legislation for the mortgage arrears issue, there were going to be insolvency agents and practitioners. However, any solution that could be put in place could be vetoed by the banks. Somehow or other as Senator Mullen said, asking banks and receivers to look towards the better angels of their human nature is at variance with what banks and receivers do. Receivers and banks make profits. They do not act in the best interests of anyone only the laws of profit. For my colleagues opposite to claim there is no need for regulation when people are arriving at houses with balaclavas is defying the facts. Colleagues opposite claimed there was no need to ensure that the banks did not have a veto, but now the Government is suggesting taking away or curtailing the banks’ veto in order to force them to do what people on this side of the House and people in the Irish Mortgage Holders Association said was necessary. Once a bank is given a veto, the bank will use the veto. As a result people have been evicted from their houses and the taxpayer is footing the bill in order to find accommodation for people who have been evicted.

Part of the amendment basically commends the Government on its work. It states that the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 is not the appropriate means to address this issue and proposes an amendment to another Act, the Residential Tenancy Act 2004, as the way to proceed. All of that counts for nothing because of the Government’s intention to keep the matter under review. This is while the men with balaclavas are arriving at 2 a.m. Does that sound like something that needs a long-term solution? The solution is required now. There is no regulation. The reason no regulation was introduced ten years ago was that there was no need for it because receivers were not arriving with balaclavas, but they are doing so now.

Today we will get a reply written by the same people who probably wrote the reply when I asked how many times the former Minister for Justice and Equality met representatives of the banks to discuss the veto by the banks in personal insolvency legislation. The former Minister would not answer the question. I put it to him that the banks wrote the legislation. I asked for the minutes of the meetings he had with the banks. The banks wrote the legislation to allow them to veto solutions for mortgage holders in arrears.

A year and a half on, we have a crisis. It was entirely predictable and here it is. Let us predict another crisis, but in fact it has already arrived. These institutions are acting like thugs, coming in the night, not as they should under regulations. The word “guidelines” is has been used. That is all they are and nobody has to observe them. They can ignore them and tear them up. That is not good enough. There need to be consequences. People must abide by law and regulation. This is the wild west of taking property from people. There is no law. An international financial newspaper once described Ireland as the wild west of banking. That was predicted ten years before the crash and what happened is exactly what happens when there is no regulation. The banks did what they do. They make a profit. They all get a bonus and all walk off with their pensions leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab.

What happens when there is no regulation dealing with the issue of people taking property? At least the RIC used to show up in daylight. Police officers would knock down the door. There was law and it was not on the side of the people. However, now there is no regulation and those concerned can show up at any hour of any day and do what they want, aided and abetted by gardaí. Gardaí observe while the mercenaries bulldoze down people’s doors and take their property.

The Government will keep the matter under review. That will be of great solace of those who are woken in the middle of the night. I am tired of hearing my colleagues opposite bemoaning that some of the receivers have sent in thugs, it is terrible and we should do something. The place to do it is here and the time to do it is not in the future but now. However, the Government will keep the matter under review.

The Minister of State will not be happy with some of the wording of the amendment which states that, “there is no compelling evidence that this sector requires the introduction of regulations to govern the conduct of receivers”. However, we read about it in the newspapers. Action is, of course, required now. After the Minister of State gives his response I ask him to bring it back to his colleagues and let them know that action is required now.

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