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Monday 19 November 2018

Neighbours of farm family in debt row say any prospective buyer 'will be given cold shoulder by community'

Brendan Stafford, Gerry McCann, Meath IFA Chairman John Curran, Michael McCann, David Farrell & Farm Business Chairman Martin Stapleton putting up a sign on the McCann farm in Meath, opposing the forced sale of the farm. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke
Brendan Stafford, Gerry McCann, Meath IFA Chairman John Curran, Michael McCann, David Farrell & Farm Business Chairman Martin Stapleton putting up a sign on the McCann farm in Meath, opposing the forced sale of the farm. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Neighbours of a farm family who claim they are being forced to sell off some of their land by a vulture fund have vowed that any prospective buyer will be given the cold shoulder by the entire community.

Around 80 farmers and neighbours yesterday rallied together in a show of support for farmers PJ, Gerry and Michael McCann at their Co Meath farm.

The brothers claim that vulture fund Promontoria is trying to force them to sell off parcels of their land to repay debts.

But Martin Stapleton, farm business chair of the Irish Farmers' Association, said the IFA and locals fully supported the McCanns and their attempts to repay their debts.

"The IFA is backing these lads. They just need time to pay back their debts," he told the Irish Independent last night. "We're convinced they are entitled to a debt restructure.

"Our debt support team has looked at this case in detail. We have sought professional advice and we are firmly of the view that this farmer has put a very credible proposal to make structured repayments.

"Vulture funds have no understanding of the family farm and they are focused only on getting their money. It is not acceptable for vulture funds to force a sale of land and cash in debts they have bought from a bank when there is a viable alternative."

He said yesterday's protest was a "show of support by neighbours who are opposed to this".

"It's about making a statement by the local people.

"Should any investor buy that land, they won't have the support or goodwill of the neighbours," he said.

He added that the local community stands in complete solidarity with the McCanns.

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