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Minister must ensure protection for families amidst Lone Star sale – O’Brien

1 August, 2018 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform Jonathan O’Brien TD has stated his concern over the sale of more than 10,000 mortgages by Permanent TSB to the Texas-based vulture fund Lone Star, and called on the Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe to ensure protections for families who now find themselves at the mercy of the vulture fund.

The Cork North-Central TD called for the Finance Committee to be recalled to discuss the sale, and that PTSB and Lone Star be invited to appear before it.

Speaking today, Deputy O’Brien said:

“We view the recent sale of over 10,000 mortgages, including over 7,400 owner-occupied homes, with deep concern.

“Many of these mortgages concern families who have experienced significant distress in their repayments throughout the past decade, and have tirelessly renegotiated the terms and restructuring of their loans against the odds.

“The Irish Mortgage Holders Association have described the challenges families have endured, many of them in long-term arrears, in their efforts to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages with PTSB, which is itself 75% state controlled.

“We now find that these families, after fighting for these new terms, have been thrown to the mercy of an American vulture fund without any assurance or confidence that the negotiated terms of their mortgages will be honoured. This is unacceptable.

“It is unacceptable that a bank, majority-owned by the State, should compromise the financial security of families by selling of its loan books to a profit-seeking vulture fund, in the attempt to reach targets set by the European Central Bank.

“It is curious to hear the Finance Minister’s assurance that families will be offered the same protections under the vulture fund, when as recently as February he expressed his worry that in the event of a sale  ‘there will be people that have restructured their mortgages that will need to engage with the lender again in the future’.

“Sinn Féin is unable to understand the reason for the Minister’s new found faith that the Lone Star vulture fund will honour the previously negotiated terms of the mortgages.

“Our party has previously insisted on the need to end the sale of loans and assets to predatory vulture funds, and continually reiterated the inability of regulation to fully protect homeowners who find themselves under their wing.

“Indeed, in 2015 an amendment moved by our party to regulate the funds was rejected by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“However, while it is the case that the Irish unit which purchased the loan, Start Mortgages, is subject to regulation by the Irish Central Bank, it is imperative that all is done to secure the protections of families and ensure they can continue to refinance their loans in times of distress.

“Therefore, Sinn Féin is calling on the Finance Committee to reconvene, in the effort to seek guarantees from Lone Star, PTSB and the Central Bank that the rights of distressed families are protected.

“While the vulture fund has refused to engage with the committee in the past, the Minister must ensure that the unnecessary sell-off of family mortgages to this vulture fund is followed by a determined effort to secure guarantees to families.

“We will work with others to explore every avenue that can provide guarantees and assurances for these families.” 

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