Protest over tractor repossession

 

Independent TD Mattie McGrath and a number of supporters staged a sit in at the offices of Friends First Finance in Dublin this afternoon over an incident relating to the repossession of a tractor.

Mr McGrath said he and others are incensed by the treatment of a Wexford farm family from Bunclody who resisted attempts to repossess their tractor last week.

According to Mr McGrath, salvage agents came in the early hours of last Thursday morning and drove off with the tractor. They were confronted down the laneway by the farmer and his 16-year-old son along with some neighbours.

A struggle ensued and the people employed by the bank to repossess the tractor left without it. The farmer, who has not been named, has been reported to owe €80,000 on the 12-year-old tractor, which he refinanced in 2007.

Mr McGrath said the manner in which Friends First acted was contrary to the code of conduct agreed by the lending institutions last year. He said the men who attempted to take the tractor did so without a warrant.

The TD and the four others say they will not leave the building until Friends First provide a letter of comfort for the family that nothing will happen the tractor until a Garda investigation into the incident takes place.

Mr McGrath has been joined by Timmy O’Brien, chairman of the Farm Contractors of Ireland Association, Wexford businessman and neighbour Sam Deacon and Wexford farmers Peter Doyle and Alymer Dalton.

They sought a commitment from the lender that it would desist from sending agents to carry out repossessions ignoring the code of conduct for lending to small and medium enterprises.

The two hour meeting ended unsuccessfully and Deputy McGrath and the five others are remaining in the building until such a commitment has been made in writing by the bank.

Friends First said they were acting legally and they only sought to repossess the tractor following the “persistent failure” of the farmer to honour the repayment terms of the hire purchase agreement.

They say they have acted within the law at all times.

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