A top barrister has called on struggling mortgage holders to come together in a national movement to smash the “divide and conquer” tactics of Irish financial institutions.
Ross Maguire, a co-founder of New Beginning, proposes a “Movement of Mortgage Holders” to harness the power of hundreds of thousands of those in debt to financial institutions, which he accused of pursuing “every ounce of their pound of flesh”.
Mr Maguire’s call to arms against banks coincides with figures released last week, which show that the numbers of homeowners in arrears with mortgage payments continues to rise. Almost 100,000 loans are now either in arrears or have been restructured, according to figures from the Central Bank. The amount in arrears has exceeded €1bn.
The barrister said a great part of the population is “enslaved by debt”.
“Left to its own devices, it will bring ruin to our country, impoverish hundreds of thousands and condemn future generations to forced emigration,” he told The Sunday Independent.
“Nothing or no-one has ever commanded such power in this State,” he added, “and nothing has ever treated our people and institutions of State with such contempt. Not even the Catholic Church in its heyday had such control.”
The Government had shown itself “unwilling or unable to take on the financial institutions. The only real option is for people to come together,” he said.
“The very existence of such a national movement would have re-balanced the relationship. The banks could not continue their plan of divide and conquer, dressed up as the ‘case by case’ approach.
“They would be held to account — not by some regulator or ombudsman or impotent minister, but by the borrowers themselves.”
He continued: “We need to raise our heads and look to the next generation; to come together and claim what is ours. We need to find the courage in ourselves to do more than recognise unfairness. We need to take a stand.”