Monday 16 September 2019

Taoiseach 'is out of touch on vultures'

Fianna Fáil’s spokesman for finance Michael McGrath. Picture: Gareth Chaney
Fianna Fáil’s spokesman for finance Michael McGrath. Picture: Gareth Chaney
John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been dubbed "out of touch" for comments he made about loan sales to vulture funds.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the Taoiseach's remarks that the vulture funds, which have bought distressed loans, are often better than Irish banks at cutting deals on debt reduction, were "bizarre". In comments to journalists, Mr Varadkar had said banks tend to "extend and pretend", which is often really deferring hard decisions.

Mr McGrath, whose party has agreed to underpin the Taoiseach's minority Government through 2019, said Mr Varadkar's views "underline how out of touch he is with the reality facing tens of thousands of families".

"Many of the deals referred to by the Taoiseach entered into by these vulture funds involve the loss of the home, the farm or the business," Mr McGrath said.

"It is the objective of most people struggling with debt to hold on to their home or their business, and they are prepared to make great sacrifice to do so. Entering into long-term restructure arrangements - or what the Taoiseach describes as 'extend and pretend' - with their bank gives them a chance to get back on their feet over time, while staying in their home," the Fianna Fáil TD added.

Mr McGrath said the Central Bank's research confirmed a borrower was less likely to get a long-term restructuring of their loan from a vulture fund than from a bank. He also welcomed news that President Michael D Higgins had signed into law a new piece of legislation pushed by his party which he said empowers the Central Bank to control so-called vulture funds.

The Taoiseach had argued that the taxpayer-owned banks had to sell on loans to avoid having to get more state aid.

Irish Independent

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