Donegal Deputy Pearse Doherty has called on the Central Bank and domestic banks to take action to help customers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Customers affected by illness or job loss should be assisted by banks refunding certain transactions charges and allowing deferral of mortgage repayments, the Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson said.
He has requested a suite of measures to alleviate the burden which thousands could face in the coming weeks and months.
Speaking today, Deputy Doherty said: “Depending on the spread and impact of Coronavirus, large numbers of workers may suffer from reduced incomes and financial difficulty through either sickness or job losses.
“It is essential that all institutions play a role in addressing this as we address this challenge together, including our banking sector.
“Many customers may be affected by these developments, with a consequent impact on their ability to meet mortgage repayments, and indeed other costs, in the coming months.
“I have therefore written to the Central Bank and a number of domestic banks, including AIB, to introduce a suite of measures that would aid those who may face financial difficulties by easing access to credit, refunding certain charges and deferring certain payments.
“I am pleased to hear that Bank of Ireland will introduce a number of measures, and other institutions in the sector should follow suit.
“Measures could include, without being confined to:
- Providing facilities that would allow customers to defer mortgage repayments for a period of up to three months;
- Refunding credit card advance fees for a fixed period of time;
- Closing fixed-term savings accounts without charge for a fixed period of time;
- Temporarily increasing borrowing limits in carefully prescribed circumstances for specific customers;
- Ending card transactions charges on contactless and chip-and-pin payments.
“As we face this challenge together, it is crucial that all of our institutions play their part to ensure that our families and communities are as prepared and protected as possible.”