Taoiseach's comments 'bizarre and out of touch', says Fianna Fáil's McGrath

Taoiseach's comments 'bizarre and out of touch', says Fianna Fáil's McGrath
Fianna Fáil's Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath

Fianna Fáil's Finance spokesperson says today's comments by the Taoiseach about vulture funds are 'bizarre and out of touch'.

Michael McGrath has welcomed the signing into law by the President of a new bill to regulate vulture funds in the New Year saying it will give greater protection to consumers.

But he says he is puzzled by remarks by Leo Varadkar at the effectiveness of 'vulture funds' in writing down debts:

“The comments in the media today from the Taoiseach about how vulture funds are better than banks at dealing with debt problems are really quite bizarre and underline how out of touch he is with the reality facing tens of thousands of families across the country. 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.

“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’ arrangements – with their bank give them a chance to get back on their feet over time while staying in their home.

"The Central Bank’s own research confirms that a borrower is less likely to get a long-term restructure on their loan from a ‘vulture fund’ than from a bank."

In a roundtable interview with reporters, the Taoiseach said: “I’m always reluctant to use the term ‘vulture funds’, because it is a political term.

“What we’re talking about here is investment banks, investment funds, finance houses. You know, there are lots of different things and lots of different financial entities there and the term is used, ‘vulture funds’.

“But you’ll know, from the numbers, that they’re often better at writedowns of loans than our own banks are.

“Our own banks tend to ‘extend and pretend’, rather than coming to settlements with people.”

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