Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Michael Fitzmaurice has condemned the latest comments made by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in relation to vulture funds being “more effective” at writing down debts than banks.

The Taoiseach’s clear lack of understanding when it comes how these funds operate is “beyond belief”, according to Deputy Fitzmaurice.

Following the Taoiseach’s recent defence of these vulture funds, the independent TD said: “Any group, investment company or vulture fund that comes into this country and buys a loan book from a bank at massively reduced rates and then demands all of the money owed from the loanee – plus other expenses – obviously doesn’t have much regard for the people of Ireland.

“Does the Taoiseach need to be reminded that it was the people of Ireland who bailed out the banks or that it was the people of Ireland who paid increased taxes in order to turn the economy around?

“His recent comments show an evident disconnect between somebody who was lucky enough to enjoy a privileged upbringing and the people who are faced with constant financial struggles on a daily basis in rural parts of Ireland,” Deputy Fitzmaurice added.

The Roscommon-Galway TD explained that it is not possible to sit directly in front of a so-called vulture fund in order to negotiate a deal, as a middle man is normally employed to relay messages.

Continuing, he said: “If a person is in arrears – be it in a business or a farm – they will be told by these funds that they have a maximum of 18 months to get the full amount of what is owed together, despite the fact that they may already have been paying as much as they could.

“And because these people have already fallen into arrears, they are already blackened and will struggle to source money.

“Let us be very clear, negotiation and a longer deal – in an awful lot of cases – is the only solution. But, unfortunately, this opportunity will not be afforded to these people.

“On top of that, if a person falls into difficulty and is earning less than €25,000 in a rural part of Ireland, they will probably be entitled to ‘Mortgage to Rent’ once they are eligible for social housing. However, once you go over the income threshold, the opportunity for ‘Mortgage to Rent’ disappears.

“Following his latest comments, it appears as if the Taoiseach has never sat in front of middle men in an effort to negotiate with vulture funds on the behalf of his constituents.

“He is lucky to come from a background in the leafy suburbs of Dublin, where he presumably never had to see people enduring these types of scenarios.”

Deputy Fitzmaurice noted that people like David Hall – the CEO of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation – as well as some other public representatives fight to keep people in their homes day in and day out.

Concluding, the independent TD said: “It would be extremely beneficial for the Taoiseach to spend some time with people who try and negotiate a way forward for a lot of people who have fallen into financial difficulty.

“As I have stated in the past, we are at the tip the iceberg when it comes to a number of issues that we do not want to see escalate into full-blown crises.

“Moving forward, there is an onus on politicians to support legislation that will properly regulate these vulture funds.”

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