Monday 20 November 2017

'We are trying to keep families in their homes' - Activists plan to occupy vulture fund offices

The vulture fund graphic being used by The Friends of Banking
The vulture fund graphic being used by The Friends of Banking
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Activists are planning to occupy a number of vulture fund offices through a "campaign of disruption" in the coming weeks.

The group 'Friends of Banking' held an invitation only meeting last week and members made a unanimous decision to "engage directly" with vulture funds and their directors and management.

In a statement, the group said: "Attack is the best form of defence.

"Delegates were instructed to ready themselves for a 'call to action' in the coming weeks involving the occupation of one or more suitable targets having been identified."

Brian Reilly, co-founder of Right2Homes, was in attendance at the meeting.

He claimed their main incentive is to prevent people being "kicked out of their homes" and "raise awareness".

Right2Homes is a not-for-profit group seeking to prevent repossessions of properties.

"What we are trying to achieve is to keep families in their homes,” he told Independent.ie.

"That’s what people from all around the country want. They feel there is a lack of urgency and denial of this crisis, which is evidently happening. They need to do something direct."

Mr Reilly claimed the group has also engaged with a Limerick-based 'disruptive' social media marketing company called BlueChief Social.

They intend to start an umbrella awareness campaign which will coincide with the Home Sweet Home conference at the Mansion House on February 18.

The campaign is aimed at "keeping people in their homes".

The groups 'call to action' follows the occupation of a Nama-managed building in Dublin city centre by a coalition of housing activists and homeless people.

Members of Home Sweet Home occupied the building for 28 days to accommodate homeless people.

Activists, trade unionists and singers Glen Hansard and Christy Moore entered Apollo House at 11pm on December 15.

All the residents vacated the property on January 12 and a High Court action over the occupation formally ended earlier this month.

Calls for 'friendly vulture funds'

Mr Reilly outlined how Right2Homes aims to prevent people being removed from their homes, while Home Sweet Home aims to tackle homelessness.

However, concerns have been raised that large-scale repossessions by vulture funds will lead to the next wave of homelessness.

John McGuinness TD previously called for the Government to set up a "friendly vulture fund" which would buy distressed loans from home-owners and enable them stay in their homes.

"The idea is to use an agency of the State, or to establish one, that would be allowed to buy the distressed debt from a bank at a rate they would sell it to a vulture fund.

"Once they get the loan they would either rent the house back to the borrower or work out a reduced rate on their mortgage," he said.

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