Families in modern Ireland are going without food to meet the demand of mortgage debt.
The arrival of the second wave of the economic crisis, giving rise for the first time in many decades to the spectre of hunger, has caused shock across the country.
The decision of homeowners to choose hunger over a fear of eviction helps expose as irrelevant the issue of “moral hazard”, the defence of policymakers who resist calls for debt forgiveness.
A nationwide Sunday Independent/Quantum Research poll has found massive support for the concept of debt forgiveness to help those who are genuinely unable to meet their full mortgage payments.
The poll found that 70 per cent supported the idea of debt forgiveness and, more tellingly, 73 per cent would not resent such relief for homeowners while they themselves continued to meet their commitments.
Yesterday the economist Morgan Kelly, who was among the first to warn of such a mortgage crisis, said that the purpose of debt forgiveness was not to eliminate negative equity but to deal with the risk of people defaulting on smaller mortgages and “losing their family homes”.
Professor Kelly told the Sunday Independent: “The State can save itself huge losses in fire sales of foreclosed properties and end the anguish of many ordinary families.”
The fear of losing their home is causing many anguished families to go without enough to eat in order to ensure that they have sufficient money to pay their mortgage.
The case highlighted last week of a family in Co Kerry which feels obliged to “cope with a new torment — hunger” to service a mortgage of €80,000 has caused widespread shock.