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Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Independent TD Mattie McGrath occupying Friends First premises

McGrath and five others are occupying the Loughlinstown premises after a meeting with managers this morning.

Updated, 14:59

INDEPENDENT TD Mattie McGrath and a number of other people are occupying the headquarters of the Friends First financial company in Loughlinstown in Dublin.

McGrath, a TD for Tipperary South, and five others are occupying the building in protest at the outcome of a meeting with senior figures at the firm earlier today.

McGrath and others had sought a meeting on foot of an attempted repossession of a tractor from a family farm in Co Wexford last week, which the TD described in a press statement as a “very nasty incident”.

Others involved in the occupation include businessmen and farmers from Co Wexford.

The six had this morning met with the company’s managing director and recoveries manager to discuss the planned repossession of the vehicle, but said they were unhappy with the outcome of that meeting.

In a statement Friends First said “official salvage agents for the company” had attempt to repossess the tractor, which had been bought using funds advanced by Friends First Finance on a hire-purchase basis – meaning the tractor does not become the property of the purchaser until the final payment.

“Agents acting for Friends First Finance made a legal attempt to repossess the vehicle, on behalf of the company,” it said.

“However, successful attempts were made by the borrower and his associates to stop the legal repossession.”

Friends First said its agents had made it clear to the borrowers that they were acting lawfully on behalf of the lender, and were in possession of a company letter giving the authority to repossess the vehicle.

However, McGrath said the farmer and his son, who stopped the repossession from taking place at 5:30am last Thursday morning, had asked to see the bearer letter – but it was not shown to them.

“Friends First Finance will always work with borrowers who are having difficulty meeting repayment and the company is willing to have a face to face meeting with this customer to see if a common, mutually agreed, approach can be reached regarding the liability owing to Friends First Finance,” the firm said.

Gardaí are investigating the incident, and McGrath had this morning asked Friends First not to proceed with any repossession until that investigation had concluded.

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