Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 4 December 2016

Farmers carried crucifixes and makeshift coffin in protest outside Ulster Bank

Published 29/03/2016 | 18:14

Members of the public during a new Land League protest to highlight financial pressures on people Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public during a new Land League protest to highlight financial pressures on people Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
New Land League protest Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Dozens of farmers and members of the New Land League carried crucifixes and a makeshift coffin as they demonstrated outside the offices of a major bank and sub-prime lender this afternoon.

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Carrying placards shaped like a coffin and black and white photographs of Irish nationalist and Land League founder Charles Stewart Parnell, they held a peaceful demonstration outside the Dublin headquarters of the Ulster Bank and the office of Carlisle Mortgages on Parnell Square.

Members of the public during a new Land League protest to highlight financial pressures Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public during a new Land League protest to highlight financial pressures Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Protest organiser and New Land League spokesman Jerry Beades said the protests were staged to highlight the ongoing plight of thousands of ordinary homeowners and farmers who now face repossession of their homes, eviction from their property  and/or insurmountable debts due to crippling interest rates charged by unregulated money lenders and sub prime lenders.

The stress and anxiety over losing their homes or being mired in debt with no recourse has already lead some farmers and others to take their own lives, Mr Beades said.

“There’s a man whose family are here today who is facing jail in a couple of weeks. He was in jail last year over the same bank. This was subprime lending at its worst. It was a scam the way people were lent money,” he said.

“They were lent at low interest rates to get them out of a particular debt problem and then the interest rate doubled and trebled. They borrowed €300,000 or €400,000 and now they owe €1.5m,” he said.

He said many borrowers were denied loans by the banks and turned to subprime lenders out of desperation, not aware that the interest rates could change, in some cases as high as 26pc.

“They were told that (a company) would do everything to get their credit rating back and they would get them back (dealing) to a mainstream bank in 12 months. But once you got involved with them, none of mainstream banks would touch you and people were caught in. But nobody knew what they were getting into,” he told Independent.ie.

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Mr Beades said Ulster Bank was targeted yesterday because  it is selling allegedly selling off outstanding agricultural and other debts to hedge or “vulture” funds whose strict terms for repayment often results in property owners losing their homes and farms.

A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank declined comment on the protest, which ended without incident an hour after gardai were called.

Officials from Carlisle could not be reached for comment.

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