A new campaign calling for a ‘mortgage strike’ is gaining support in Co. Galway, according to a group representative.
Non-political activist network Independent Resistance was established less than six months ago and is building support across the country, according to acting convenor Dr Colmán Etchingham, who said the group has been “strongly supportive” in particular of the campaign being waged against the authorities by Galway turf cutters.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, the NUI Maynooth lecturer explained the group’s six-point economic recovery plan is based on proposals by Galway lecturer, Professor Terrence McDonough, including a proposal that a ‘mortgage strike’ be threatened, with a view to forcing the banks to negotiate directly with mortgage holders in arrears.
“We think that the way the Government and the banks are dealing with this is of no value or use to the unfortunate people who are stuck in the predicament of mortgage arrears.
“We consider that the Insolvency Act recently introduced simply is a charter to allow the financial institutions to clear people out of their homes and it doesn’t resolve the problem of mortgage arrears in any satisfactory way.”
He added that, from Independent Resistance’s point of view, “a home is a human right”. “Throughout the Celtic Tiger period, people had no option really but to borrow very large sums and mortgages in order to realise their right to a home. There was no other option other than renting, which was just as expensive and seemed a less attractive option for people.
“The mortgage holders didn’t have an option, didn’t have a choice, contrary to what is regularly claimed, because the Government is not in the business of building large amounts of public housing…whereas the financial institutions in each individual case did have a choice, whether to lend or not to lend. They took a punt on the market and they’ve got to take the hit.”
Independent Resistance is now calling for a mortgage write-down. “There’s about €170 billion of personal and mortgage debt in this country, it’s just not payable back, any more than the national debt is realistically and we’re going to have to face up to that reality sooner or later,” said Dr Etchingham.
He added that mortgage holders should have a role in determining the solution to the problem, rather than leaving it to the banks, and that Independent Resistance is asking the public to commit to a ‘mortgage strike’, i.e. withholding payments, in a bid to force the financial institutions to negotiate on a “realistic, across the board mortgage write down”.
The proposed strike is just one part of the economic plan developed with Prof. McDonough, which also includes writing down much of the national debt, reviving the Irish currency, building a “good public bank” and defending the autonomy of credit unions, institute a State-backed jobs guarantee to tackle the unemployment crisis, and nationalising the Corrib gas field.
For more details on the campaign, find Mortgage Strike Ireland on Facebook.