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Vulture funds are 'preying on the misery and distress' of farmers

The Tánaiste said if people borrow money, they have a responsibility to pay it back.

Rural Independet TD Carol Nolan said personal insolvency practitioners and farming organisations have been
Rural Independet TD Carol Nolan said personal insolvency practitioners and farming organisations have been "sounding the alarm for years now, yet nothing has been done by government".
Image: Shutterstock/MNStudio

VULTURE FUNDS ARE “preying on misery and distress” TD Carol Nolan of the Rural Independents told the Dáil.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, the Tánaiste was told vulture funds are forcing the sale of “hundreds if not thousands” of farms.

Nolan said personal insolvency practitioners and farming organisations have been “sounding the alarm for years now, yet nothing has been done by government”.

The Laois-Offaly TD said she has taken calls from distressed constituents, stating:

“This is not a new issue, we need a lot more action from government.”

Varadkar replied by saying that if someone borrows money, “you do have a responsibility to repay your debts”.

He said people that are not paying back their mortgage debts results in other people paying higher interest rates. “We need to be honest about that,” he said. 

Varadkar said people not repaying their debts “causes social harm to others”.

However, he added that those that reasonably try to repay their debts should be afforded the time and space to do that. He said the courts are also there, and often favourable to home owners.

“I am shocked at your lack of understanding of this issue,” said Nolan.

She said the actions of vulture funds against farmers are “ruthless”.

“Vulture funds are faceless entities, she said. This government is letting vulture funds “run riot”, she added.

Nolan told the Dáil that she is not saying people should not repay their debts. However, she said everyone knows vulture funds are not in it for the long game. She said they are in it for “short-term gain”.

“Where are the protection for farmers from vulture funds,” asked Nolan.

Many farmers are genuinely trying to engage and repay, “and they are not being afforded the space and the fairness” by these “faceless entities” said Nolan.

A surge in forced farm sales by vulture funds has been reported by personal insolvency practitioners (PIPs) and the farm organisations, according to a recent report in the Irish Independent.

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It reports that a more aggressive approach by lenders since the end of the Covid-19 related moratorium on forced sales has resulted in more properties being put on the market.

Nolan has asked Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to “immediately investigate claims that vulture funds are engaging in the forced sale of a significant number of farms”.

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