The Keane Report

14th October, 2011

The report is the first attempt by politicians to address the issue of
“distressed mortgages”. The last Government did NOTHING for those in
mortgage difficulty and cared only for saving the banks.

It is correct to say that there is no blanket debt forgiveness for
those in mortgage difficulty. This is a necessary evil however. Those
on the left will no doubt issue a populist rejoinder that the “banks
should pay”. Such a response does NOTHING to help. A blanket debt
forgiveness plan would simply lead to a widespread and complete
default on mortgage debt, which would cripple the economy.

The Taoiseach has said his Government’s policy is to help those who
can’t pay, rather than those who won’t pay. That is fair.

The report spells out proposals that would see those in trouble with
their mortgages and who cannot reasonably hope to get out that
difficulty in the medium- to long-term to have the ownership of the
ownership of the home transferred to the lending institution or to a
housing association. While such a move would be difficult – and for
those who ad hoped to someday own their home outright it would be very
sad – it will still allow that family to remain in the homes they
love, and spare them and their children (often very young children)
the indignity of packing up and moving out.

The Government has received a report that is fiscally sensible and
morally fair. It will help us reach a “just settlement” of the
mortgage crisis that we inherited- one where everyone meets their
fiscal obligations, but where the family famly is protected and nobody
is forced to leave their home.

It strikes me that such a solution is quintessentially more Berlin
than Boston. Can you imagine the US Congress voting on such a deal? We
have here something in line with Just Society that we seek, but all too often do not see in practice