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Finance Minister says he wouldn't mind if his mortgage was held by a vulture fund

The minister said the Sinn Fein Bill to give mortgage holders the power to block the sale of their loans to vulture funds is unconstitutional.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe
Image: Sam Boal

FINANCE MINISTER PASCHAL Donohoe has said he would not mind if his mortgage was held by a vulture fund as he believes the same protections would apply. 

Yesterday, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Ed Sibley and the Assistant Secretary for the Department of Finance Gary Tobin were asked during a committee hearing whether they would prefer their own mortgages to be held by a vulture fund or a mainstream bank.

The assistant secretary said he “would have no particular preference”, while the deputy governor said he understood the concerns that people have about dealing with “non-banks”, but said his advice to any borrower, particular one in distress, is to engage with their lender, be it a bank or non-bank. 

When asked the same question today, Donohoe said he stood over his view and the advice from his department that the current code of conduct in relation to how mortgage holders are treated, stating that it “protects everyone equally” no matter if the mortgage is held by a traditional bank or a vulture fund. 

Same protections

“I would be happy for my mortgage to be held by anybody that supplies mortgages in the country at the moment,” he said, adding that the “evidence shows that protections are in place and that citizens are treated equally”. 

Yesterday, both Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness disagreed with officials mortgage-holders not impacted adversely if their bank sells their loans to a vulture fund, stating that if the same protections applied politicians wouldn’t be bringing forward a raft of legislation to deal with the problems. 

The minister indicated today that he was unhappy the question of whether they would prefer their loan to be with a bank or vulture fund being posed to his department’s top civil servant and the deputy governor of the Central Bank, stating that “they are not politicians”. 

When officials are invited to attend an Oireachtas Committee (yesterday they were discussing Sinn Fein’s No Consent No Sale Bill which aims to give mortgage holders the power to block the sale of their mortgage bank loans to vulture funds) questions should be limited to policy issues, said Donohoe. 

“I am happy to answer that question as I am elected by the people,” said Donohoe, adding that “personal questions” should be directed at him, and not officials such as the civil servants in the Department of Finance or the Central Bank. 

Donohoe also stated that the Sinn Féin Bill would be damaging to the Irish banking system, and said the Attorney General has advised him the proposed legislation is unconstitutional. 

Yesterday, there was some confusion during questioning of department officials as to whether the AG had advised that the Bill was unconstitutional, or “likely to be” unconstitutional, which Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty argued were two separate assertions to make. 

The Dáil voted by 80 votes to 45 to pass the Bill – the government opposed the proposed legislation.

 

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