A HIGH Court judge was furious yesterday with banks for giving mortgages to people without proper checks to see if they would pay.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern raised the issue as he granted 12 orders for repossession yesterday.

One of those orders involved a couple from Co Donegal who had repaid just €50 off their mortgage since September 2008.

The court heard allegations that the Co Donegal couple did have the money to pay – but they were alleged to be spending €90 a month on television channels and €1,000 a month on cigarettes.

Mr Justice McGovern said “during the years of the Celtic Tiger, everybody had a dream to own their own home”.

However, he added, “lending agencies had a responsibility to ensure people’s capacity to repay” and it was clear some agencies had offered loans “to people who had no capacity ever to repay their debts”.

Counsel for Start Mortgages presented details of the Donegal couple’s finances, claiming they were spending €90 a month on television channels and €1,000 a month on cigarettes. Both were now unemployed.

Counsel said Start Mortgages had been paid the €50 in November 2010 but it had proven very difficult to contact the couple since.

There had, however, been an offer at one stage to pay €200 a month, he said. The monthly loan repayment was €1,015 and the account was now more than €32,000 in arrears. The couple was said to have moved out of the house, which was water damaged.

Mr Justice McGovern said having a television and reasonable access to channels was “almost a necessity” but he wondered was it “really necessary” to spend €90 a month. He granted the order for repossession with costs but imposed a stay of six months.

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