The decision by PTSB to sell loans secured on 10,700 properties (of which about 7,400 are private homes) is deeply worrying.
Minister Paschal Donohue this morning expressed his confidence that those whose loans have been sold on will be protected. However there are many questions that remain to be answered about Monday’s announcement of the sale. Lone Star, and other parent companies of vulture funds, remain outside the regulatory framework in this State, despite efforts from my colleague, Pearse Doherty TD, to legislate for this.
We in Sinn Féin have consistently put on record our opposition to these sales, especially the sale of family homes to vultures. However, there is much that the Government and all political parties could be doing on behalf of homeowners affected by this. In May of this year PTSB removed 4,000 split mortgages from the sale process. This is proof that political pressure on banks does work.
We still do not know how much of a write down the vulture fund backed by Lone Star received. Lone Star has been asked several times to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee where members could ask detailed questions on behalf of the thousands of customers who have received letters in the past few days. The disconnect between the Government and the actions of banks such as PTSB, which is 75% State owned was summed up by the Taoiseach when he said that he only found out about the sale through the media.
I would encourage all those who have received this notification from PTSB and who are concerned about their situation to get in contact with organisations such as MABS and Abhaile in order to inform themselves of their rights under current legislation.
What is unclear is whether the figure of 25% of loans described as non-performing includes interest-only mortgages. At a recent meeting of the Finance Committee, I had asked representatives of another retail bank if those who were paying interest only mortgages as per still regarded as non-performing loans. I was told that even though the terms of restructuring arrangement with the bank were being met, they were still regarded as non-performing.
Sinn Féin will continue to apply pressure to have these questions addressed and to put homeowners at the front and centre of any further actions by the retail banks that were bailed out by these same tax payers not too long ago.