Deputy Pauline Tully

Tully urges government to back mortgage relief plan

Sinn Fein motion will be debated on Wednesday

A local TD has called on government parties to support Sinn Féin’s proposals to give "much-needed mortgage relief" for homeowners.

Deputy Pauline Tully was speaking ahead of a motion from Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, scheduled for debate in the Dáil on Wednesday, which she expects the government parties to reject.

The motion calls on the Minister for Finance Michael McGrath to introduce timely, targeted and temporary mortgage interest relief to support borrowers struggling with rising interest rates.

“Mortgage holders are seeing a large rise in their interest costs as a result of interest rate hikes by the ECB," said Deputy Tully.

“Last week’s hike was the fifth since July. That means that borrowers will be paying thousands of euros more in interest this year and others are likely to see their interest rates increase in the coming period.

“In the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, with sharp and significant rises in interest costs, now is the right time to introduce timely, targeted and temporary mortgage interest relief."

Deputy Tully noted historic quotes from the current government minister which suggest Minister McGrath previously supported mortgage relief.

“The now Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath, while in opposition in 2015, described mortgage relief as ‘a very important support for families’ and that ‘the process of withdrawing it from existing homeowners at the same time as they are subject to a residential property tax highlights a government that is pursuing policies that are making home ownership increasingly unaffordable for families’.

“Sinn Féin agrees with Minister McGrath’s then assessment but considers it an apt description of the policies of the current Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party government.

“Minister McGrath’s U-turn on this issue, as confirmed by his statements last week that he has no plans to introduce mortgage interest relief despite his previous calls in opposition, suggests Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael cannot be trusted to support homeownership or homeowners," the Cavan Monaghan TD asserted.

She detailed that Deputy Doherty is proposing a scheme which provided mortgage interest relief equivalent to 30% of increased interest costs relative to June 2022 up to but not exceeding €1,500 per annum.

“The measure is temporary, and the measure is targeted – it would provide relief on increased interest costs as a result of interest rate rises," contends Deputy Tully.

“We would also work with the Central Bank to enhance the supervision of vulture funds in the interests of struggling borrowers, and we would examine the taxation of the banking sector including the treatment of corporation tax loss relief.

“These proposals would absorb a portion of borrowers’ increased interest costs as a result of rate hikes since June. This measure is sensible, affordable and necessary.”