Independent TD Michael Lowry has called on the Ulster Bank to reverse its decision to sell more than 900 distressed loans to ‘vulture funds’, in their efforts to rid themselves of acquired problem assets, mostly obtained during the so called boom era.
“This sale of assets by Ulster Bank, valued at €2.5bn, is made up of distressed business loans, buy-to-let mortgages and owner-occupier mortgages. Their decision is aimed at drastically eradicating all remaining so called ‘toxic’ property loans from its books on both sides of the border. However if carried out there exists a further fear that other banking establishments will most likely replicate similar procedures against their customers.
About €100m of the total face value of Ulster Bank loans, now being offered for sale, are owned by farmers and in many cases are linked to necessary on-farm business investments. This threat now comes at a time when Irish agriculture, in particular, is already on its knees with farm debt on an upward spiral, due to world market price volatility, which looks set to remain for the foreseeable future.
This threatened outcome by Ulster Bank is an appalling and insensitive approach to vulnerable business mortgage holders, who are currently finding themselves in financial difficulties. On a daily basis, I am confronted with appalling instances of financial institutions being allowed to ignore their own wrong-doings, while trampling and terrorising Irish borrowers.
This devastating threat, if carried through, will bring about the most negative and damaging of effects to families, overall business development in our regional communities and more especially will decimate attempts at any real rural recovery. If Ulster Bank mortgages are sold off to these ‘vulture funds’, then we will witness further new and increased cases of homelessness and a continuance in the escalation of private rental costs.
I now urge all banking establishments to develop new long-term funding arrangements and to immediately suspend their present threatening action. The vast majority of customers are keen to find a resolution to their current financial difficulties and should be given professional, independent advice on restructuring their outstanding loans. I also call for a renewed sense of urgency by the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure, to assist in creating a more efficient funding mechanism to halt and reverse this recent banking decision” concluded Deputy Lowry.
Lowry calls for Rural Road Funding
Independent TD Michael Lowry, has requested that all Tipperary’s newly elected TD’s unite to ensure that necessary future funding for rural roads be made an immediate priority for the 32nd Dáil.
“The Rural Road Network throughout county Tipperary is crumbling. The principle factor is the lack of investment and continuous decrease in monies made available to local County Councils. The National Roads Fund decreased from €608 million in 2008 to a current figure of €294 million. In 2011 both North and South Tipperary got a total of €45 million for roads. In 2015 this had fallen to €28 million, with a further €3 million of reductions this year.
This decrease in funding has had a huge negative impact on rural communities, with many of our roads becoming extremely hazardous. Daily struggles are arising for rural school buses, and other essential service providers. In many cases these erosive conditions are creating obstacle courses which are bordering on the impassable. Drivers find themselves in dangerous situations where they are forced to drive erratically to avoid deepening potholes. Each day my office receives countless complaints from vehicle owners, where their vehicles are being damaged, tyres have been ripped off and issues are arising with steering and suspension, brought about by potholes which rapidly merge to form giant craters.
The people of Tipperary are extremely frustrated with this outgoing government and justifiably point out that as citizen’s they pay heavy car taxes, numerous charges and levies, yet the horrendous state of rural roads tolerated on a day-to-day basis in Tipperary would never be permitted to exist in our capital city. It is evident that this current administration continues to cultivate a two track society; one which offers fast urban centres, while rural Ireland is permitted to remain abandoned.
I have spoken to the CEO of Tipperary County Council, requesting that an inventory of all roads, which need repair and replacement works right across the county, be immediately established and should include reasonable estimates for all repairs and refurbishments.
I will work alongside my elected colleagues, in seeking the appropriate funding for this crisis, while exerting my influence on the introduction of a proper roads network program into the future. I have also requested that the management of the council ensure that they get satisfactory value and return for all money spent, while all future work practices remain up to a recognised standard, using quality material and ensuring proper road drainage is put in place.
The total neglect of our rural roads now requires urgent attention and the present scenario of drastically reduced infrastructural funding must be immediately reversed,” concluded Deputy Lowry.
“Following repeated requests from Tipperary Dairy Farmers I am calling on Minister Simon Coveney and the Department of Agriculture Food and Marine, to process applicants to the various TAMS II Schemes without further delay stated Deputy Michael Lowry.
These delays have caused unparalleled stress and anxiety for the Farmers in question. It is ludicrous to suggest Farmers should have to wait until first approvals to go out in January for the TAMS II Scheme. All applications for TAMS II are made under a tranche-based approach the first Tranche of the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme closed seven weeks ago and the first Tranche of the Dairy Equipment Scheme closed over three weeks ago. Minister Coveney surely understands that these cows and Heifers are already in Calf at the moment and they will Calf when they are ready and not when the Minister dictates.
In addition, to the obvious time constraints to complete necessary storage and housing work there is also a clear animal welfare issue here while Farmers are waiting for approval. I am calling on the Minister of Agriculture Food and the Marine to process these applications without delay and give urgently authorisation to all the TAMS II Schemes applications.
This issue is extremely frustrating for dairy farmers who must carry out work while herds are dried off and this must be resolved without delay concluded Deputy Lowry.”
Deputy Michael Lowry has urged the Government and Minister Simon Coveney to take action with the on-going crises within the Dairy Industry which has resulted in the continuing dramatic decline of Milk Prices.
Deputy Lowry was speaking in response to research compiled by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA)
“The recent Research conducted by economics professor Alan Mathews of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has shown Tipperary will see a fall of probably €111m through direct reduction in milk price and the multiplier effect that sees that milk price spent in local communities. The research has shown that milk prices per litre has fallen from 38.4 cent per litre to a low of 28 cent per litre in some parts of the country.
From speaking to Dairy Farmers across Tipperary it is evident they are under severe financial pressure due to these falling prices. We must not forget Co-op’s such as Arrabawn, Drombane, Centenary/Thurles, Tipperary, Mullinahone, Glanbia and Dairygold. These Co-op’s are providing massive employment within the county and are currently making great efforts to support Milk prices from within their own resource. This is providing vital support for many Tipperary based farming families.
Increased production internationally particularly in New Zealand and the United States coupled with the European ban on Russia and China’s economic weakness have all had an negative impact on Irish Milk price. It is now time for Dublin and Brussels to introduce practical measures to ensure that thousands of farming families in Tipperary will come through this crisis”
Deputy Lowry Concluded:
“I have suggested in my representations to Deputy Coveney and the Government to introduce a 5-point Dairy Recovery Plan:
- Early approval and payment of all Farmer Schemes & Grants to Farming Families. This will provide much needed cash flow in the Farming community.
- I am calling on the Minister for Finance Deputy Michael Noonan to investigate the possibility to allow provisions for Dairy Farmers to defer their upcoming tax bill to the next tax year. The inclusion of this in Budget 2016 would allow time for milk prices to recover and in turn will help cash flow for the farming community.
- That the banking sector should be instructed to investigate the possibility of providing low interest rate bridging loans to Dairy Farmers Nationally.
- €70 million of European Superlevy fines have been imposed on the Irish Dairy Industry. I have called on Minister Coveney to work with other EU Agricultural Ministers and Farming Organisations to ensure that this €70 million is retained within the EU Agricultural Budget. An emergency meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers is scheduled for September 7th in Brussels.
- That the Department of Agriculture continue working with Co-op’s to develop tools to allow farmers hedge portions of their milk at fixed prices to protect them from the volatility of the market.
I truly believe these provisions will allow the Dairy Farming Community in Tipperary to recover and in turn secure the future of 1,000’s of Jobs in Dairy Farming Industry. I would also call on the EU Commission to raise the intervention floor price for dairy product. This in turn would give some confidence to the market as well as giving confidence to the producer”
IFA LAUNCHES NATIONAL FARM SAFETY AWARENESS DAY, TUESDAY 21ST JULY
“I am asking farm families to take time out from farming on Tuesday next, 21st July to review their Farm Safety Risk Assessment by assessing the safety risks on their farm and put in place control measures to reduce the risk of accidents. IFA, with the support of the Champions for Change campaign, has produced an easy-to-use Farm Safety Risk Assessment Planner, which I would encourage all farm families to use to review safety on their farm”.
The National Farm Safety Awareness Day is part of the IFA’s ongoing SAVE LIVES, ‘Think Safety, Farm Safely’ campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of working on a farm and encourage farmers to change working practices to reduce risks.
IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairwoman Maura Canning said that National Farm Safety Awareness Day is about getting the whole family involved to review safety on the farm. “Summer is a very busy time on farms so it is important that the young people are aware of the potential risks. By getting the whole family involved I believe we will bring about real change in behaviour to safety and make farming safer.”
Eddie Downey said, “Attitudes to farm safety are changing. The response to the Farm Safety Scheme shows that if farmers are supported, they will invest in safety. IFA will continue to work with and support farm families through initiatives like the Farm Safety Risk Assessment planner to improve safety on farms”.
Information VIA: The Irish Farmers Association Website