FF TD accuses party leaders of having ‘no backbone’ on vulture fund Bill

Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness calls for recall of the Dáil over mortgage arrears issue

Fianna Fáil TD and chair of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, John McGuinness, has written to his party's public representatives accusing the leadership of losing its "backbone" and seeking their support for an early recall of the Dáil.

In particular he wants the Dáil to come back early to address the mortgage arrears issue and progress his bill to regulate “vulture funds”.

The Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill,written by the Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan and introduced to the Dáil last month, was unopposed and reached its second stage.

The European Central Bank (ECB) last month however warned the draft law, if enacted, could damage banks' ability to lend.


In his letter, sent last Friday, Mr McGuinness tells the party’s 255 councillors, 44 TDs (in addition to himself) and 13 Senators, senior members of the party have failed to support him.

He says PTSB and Ulster Bank are selling almost 16,000 mortgages to a vulture fund and other banks are likely considering such a move.

"Complete silence from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on this matter says much for the state of Irish politics today," says Mr McGuinness.

“Remember, it is not just mortgages that are being sold, it’s the lives of Irish people, many of whom are where they are because of the reckless lending of the very banks now selling them into destitution.

It’s time Fianna Fáil “stood up and spoke out,” he says.

He says Mr Honohan came to him with a bill he had drafted to tackle the mortgage arrears crisis last year.

“I brought him to meet senior Fianna Fáil members, but he got little thought or time. I defended and promoted the bill at parliamentary party meetings and got no support from the leadership, both elected and unelected.

“Fianna Fáil needs to find its soul and regrow its backbone, become the opposition it should be, rather than the supine partner in government it is, and force the government to act by promoting decency instead of tolerating greed and keep our people safe by strongly curtailing the actions of all those who seek to reduce their lives to numbers on an enormously profitable balance sheet.”

He asks them to “join with” him “and make it clear to HQ that the members of this great party want its voice raised on this matter? Will you demand that the Dáil be recalled in the first week of September to discuss Ed Honohan’s Bill, now in second stage.

“From its history and roots and from its activists, its cumainn and its public representatives Fianna Fáil needs to draw the strength to get behind this Bill. Most of the parliamentary party want to support it and our people want action. It’s time the voice of the Fianna Fáil party in the country was heard.”

The Dáil can be recalled only with the agreement of Government.

Party colleague Marc McSharry is “supportive of recalling the Dáil”.

“Nothing serious has been done to tackle this crisis. But when we discuss the Bill no doubt the wagons will circle and officialdom will rain all over it out of fear of spooking the markets.”

Fianna Fáil did not respond to requests for a comment.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times