by Pat Brosnan


Mortgage Meaningless Help


It is difficult to understand whatever steps have been taken during the past week by the Government that was supposed to help the mortgage holders throughout the country that find themselves in so-called negative equity which is a rather recently invented smart sounding phrase in use like many other such high sounding words by financiers and cute politicians, but which generally are completely meaningless to the ordinary plain people like ourselves. My understanding, right or wrong, of those in negative equity means in plain language people who borrowed money , hundreds and thousands , from banks and other financial institutions to buy or build their houses and which they now find themselves unable to repay. These financial giants, when repayment backlogs started to pile up, have proven themselves, by all accounts, to be completely ruthless in the evictions of insolvent mortgage holders and the repossessions of their former homes. Last week the Government’s much heralded and promised report on mortgages, or whatever it was supposed to be, which was to bring much needed relief to hard pressed mortgage holders who had fallen behind with their payments. Without pretending to know a great deal about the intricate and complicated world of finance, apart from having worked at one stage for 7 years in the insurance business, but whatever piece of information we have learned from recent news items in radio and television and the print media, it seems that really there will be no great change from previous proposals even under the previous administration.

The basic hue of the matter seems to be that mortgage holders who have fallen behind will now get a chance to negotiate a deal with the money lenders in which they can continue to live in their homes. But instead of being the owners as heretofore they will be no more than ordinary local authority tenants.  In fact, Council tenants will now be more secure and less burdened, so it is difficult to see what last week’s Government move will do for the mortgage holders. However, there has been a piece of news coming from the financial controller Matthew Elderfield which will be welcomed. Apparently he has told the banks that they must stop rising interest rates on mortgages or otherwise that they will be compelled to do so.  It is really pathetic to see so many people who are stuck up to their tonsils in mortgage debt repayments which now unfortunately they are unable to meet because of one reason or another, but mainly because their jobs folded up within the last few years because of the recession. Many of these people borrowed heavily and now in hindsight rather foolishly, in order to build lavish houses, if the truth was told rather mansions which had to be complete with electrified security gates with press buttons to be admitted. Just like Belgravia district in London where the film stars and television celebrities hang out.

Those people who are well off now and in reasonably good circumstances are those who built their own homes at a reasonable cost, or bought modest second-hand houses without going into deep debt.  One of the worst nightmares for any family who had settled in an area is to be dispossessed of the family home because they are unable to meet their mortgage repayments. And it certainly seems that Governments, either past or present had ever any notion of enforcing any practical form of debt forgiveness on the financial money lenders even though these have been sub vented to such an almost unbearable extent by the present and previous Governments on behalf of the taxpayers. Last week’s half hearted and meaningless effort will have little effect in providing any kind of real practical help for distressed mortgage holders. The only thing it is likely to do for many of them will be to reduce their status from that of homeowner to tenant in such a way that they will be very unlikely to ever own their own homes again unless their circumstances are inclined to show vast signs of improvement. It is indeed awfully sad that such a big proportion, particularly of the young people of our country were so misled into accepting such crippling debts, but unfortunately there appears to be little hope of turning back at this stage.


 Fr Kevin Reynolds Case

The shocking, outrageous and totally untrue allegations which earlier this year in an RTE Television Programme about Galway Parish Priest Fr Kevin Reynolds alleged improper conduct with an African teenage girl at a time when he was serving in the Missions out there. These vile allegations which were broadcast on RTE must have no doubt caused untold distress and trauma to this decent, honest and upright priest who now, thankfully, has been reinstated in his Galway parish to the delight of his congregation and thousands of other right-minded decent people throughout the country. RTE, naturally, has had to apologise for such despicable lies, but any apology will not compensate Fr Reynolds for the ordeal that he has been through.  The television station who broadcasted these false, unspeakable allegations has many pertinent questions to answer regarding this case such as – was the interviewer who was sent to Africa to meet the lady in question given all fares and expenses paid by RTE which had come from taxpayers money? Was the lady who allegedly gave this false and misleading information concerning Fr Reynolds paid for her interview by RTE?  Why did not the RTE Authority apologise to Fr Reynolds much earlier after it discovered that all the allegations were a pack of lies? Why was not much more exposure given about the awful blunders which were made broadcast on RTE? Is it possible that other priests have been set up and framed in the same way? It has been noted during the past week that much of the media has provided very little coverage about the grave injustice that has been inflicted on Fr Reynolds because of this RTE Programme. Naturally, we cannot assume that this is deliberate perhaps it might even be that Fr Reynolds in his generosity and sense of forgiveness may not want to come down too heavy on those who made such senseless and groundless accusations. Our hope is that Fr Reynolds will enjoy the remainder of his time in his Galway Parish and that he will be strong enough to be able to leave the horror of the past number of months behind him.


Ban on Altar Girls

According to Fr Brian Darcy’s usual weekly column in a Sunday paper it appears that there is a movement afoot in North America to remove all girls from serving at Mass and return to the former but now outdated practice of boys only. If this would ever happen it would certainly be very much a retrograde step and certainly would do nothing to increase attendance at Mass. Apparently the Rector in the Church of St Simon and Jude in Phoenix, Arizona, has unilaterally changed the policy on Altar Servers and from now on it will be boys only. It would be an awful pity if this would catch on and if girls were ever again banned from serving Mass. Two of my own grand-daughters both were Mass servers for a time and we were all glad that they were given a chance to do so.