We res­cued the banks – now they must atone

Irish Independent - - Letters & Editorial Comment -

THIS was the week that Nama an­nounced with jus­ti­fi­able pride that €30.2bn it used to pay for bad loans from banks had been paid back. But the ledger has yet to be bound big enough to con­tain the bal­ance of suf­fer­ing vis­ited on the peo­ple of this coun­try by the banks. There is no mar­gin for hu­man cost.

This week we got some sense of it when the Oireach­tas Fi­nance Com­mit­tee heard har­row­ing ev­i­dence from four coura­geous peo­ple caught up in the tracker mort­gage tragedy. The four home­own­ers re­lived ex­pe­ri­ences of be­ing forced to pay tens of thou­sands more than was nec­es­sary.

One man, Thomas Ryan, re­vealed he had suf­fered a stroke in 2013, while his wife had a ner­vous break­down in 2015 af­ter be­ing wrongly taken off their tracker.

Over re­cent years we have heard much lofty talk about how we would strive to be a “so­ci­ety”, and not merely an “econ­omy”. Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar’s as­pi­ra­tion to cre­ate a ‘Repub­lic of Op­por­tu­nity’ is al­ready in dan­ger of be­ing con­signed to the same scrap-yard of bro­ken dreams.

Scott Fitzger­ald wrote: “At 18 our con­vic­tions are hills from which we look; at 45 they are caves in which we hide.” There must now be nowhere for er­rant banks to hide.

Mr Varad­kar said as far as he was con­cerned, “yes­ter­day should have been a dead­line for the banks”.

“They should re­pay what is owed, of­fer an apol­ogy and pay com­pen­sa­tion,” he added.

As head of Govern­ment, Mr Varad­kar must draw a line un­der what the Ir­ish Mort­gage Hold­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion has de­scribed as the sin­gle big­gest con­sumer rip-off in the his­tory of the State. We found bil­lions to pay banks, but the banks them­selves have yet to atone. As many as 30,000 peo­ple could have been drawn into this whirlpool of de­spair. All in a coun­try with the fam­ily at the heart of its Con­sti­tu­tion. Sure, we can as­pire to be­com­ing a ‘Repub­lic of Op­por­tu­nity’, but clearly we have a way to go.

In the mean­time we ap­pear des­tined to work with what we have got.

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