Wednesday 24 July 2019

'No consent, no sale' - vulture fund bill looks likely to fail

TD Pearse Doherty. Photo: Justin Farrelly.
TD Pearse Doherty. Photo: Justin Farrelly.
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

LEGISLATION that would force banks to secure permission from distressed mortgage holders to sell on their loans looks likely to fail.

The No Consent, No Sale bill gives a veto to homeowners whose mortgages are being sold to a vulture fund.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty is promoting the bill but has accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of trying to “scuttle” it.

After protracted deliberations, the Oireachtas Finance Committee decided to recommend the bill in what is known as a scrutiny report that will now be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

But the Finance Committee also agreed to a proposal to have what he said would be an independent analysis carried out on the impact of the bill before it moves to its next phase in the legislative process.

The independent analysis is to be paid for by the Department of Finance.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told the committee earlier this week the private members’ bill will lead to higher interest rates for all and restrict banks lending money.

Mr Donohoe said that if the No Consent, No Sale bill was to be passed by the Oireachtas it would result in reduced availability of mortgages for consumers.

He told the committee the bill would hinder the mortgage market.

Up to €10bn-worth of distressed loans are set to be sold in the next few months by the likes of Ulster Bank. Vultures are expected to buy most of these.

The proposed bill is also opposed by the Central Bank, the European Central Bank and the Banking and Payments Federation. They have all argued the draft laws would hurt the financial system if enacted.

Speaking after a long private session of the Finance Committee, Mr Doherty said the move to have an independent analysis carried out on the impact of the bill would “kill it off”.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are using sweet words but they are trying to kill off the bill,” he said after the private session.

He said it could be September or October before the analysis is carried out.

“We are in danger of running out of time because this Dáil will be finished before the bill is passed,” the TD said.

He said Fine Gael has stated it will vote against the No Consent bill.

He added it was unlikely the bill would now be passed unless there is a major change of heart in the Oireachtas.

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