Fear of vulture funds ‘is making people ill’ – Mattie McGrath

The fear of vulture funds is making people ill, according to independent TD Mattie McGrath.

Speaking to AgriLand, the deputy said he was shocked by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s comments during leaders questions in the Dáil earlier today (Thursday, November 26) in relation to increased vulture fund activity and forced farm sales.

Also Read: Tánaiste’s reply to forced farm sales ‘pitiful, inadequate and ill-informed’

The Tánaiste said that it is important that people have a responsibility to repay their debts.

“If people borrow money, they have a responsibility to pay it back. That is true for mortgage holders, farmers and business people,” the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said.

“If people do not pay back their debts, they are causing social harm. Farmers not paying back their debts means that it is harder for other farmers to get credit and that they have to pay higher interest rates when they do.”

‘Vulture funds are running riot’

Deputy McGrath felt that the Tánaiste was “so cavalier, and so out of touch”.

“It was shocking – I couldn’t get over. To give a lecture about paying our debts – we [Rural Independent Group] are talking about ordinary people that have borrowed in good faith, bought land, invested in different changes around their farm or farming practices, trying their best to pay it back and now they’re at the mercy of the vulture funds,” the deputy said.

The Tipperary TD said that vulture funds are “running riot”.

“The main message is that people are just terrified and traumatised. The fear is making people ill,” he continued.

“We were told there would be no evictions during the lockdown – I know of several people that have been evicted out of properties – mainly from family farms and small businesses. They can’t survive now because they have no income. And then they have the banks knocking on the door – and they haven’t even enough to eat.

“The government appear to have no desire to reign in the banks or the vulture funds. We saw that when they lifted the Covid-19 moratorium that was there.

He’s supposed to be a minister with an understanding of what is going on with industry – to say something so cold and callous was quite a condescending response – telling people ‘pay up or shut up’ was the message really.

Deputy McGrath said that he, along with the other members of the Rural Independent Group, want support for people “that have tried their best”.

“People who have families, some people are sick and needed a break, all we want is understanding and engagement from these lenders,” he said.

“The farmers brought us out of the last recession and kept the economy going and this is the thanks they get now. No protections against vulture funds, no Fair Deal scheme, things are very difficult financially.”