herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

GAA club left fearing for their future as lands may be sold off

Background

The Tyrrelstown pitches, which may also be sold off
The Tyrrelstown pitches, which may also be sold off

Vulture funds were given their name as they tend to target weak companies and wait to profit from their demise.

Most commonly, but not in the Tyrrelstown case, they do this by buying out, at a reduced cost, struggling loans that are mortgaged against assets from banks.

The ultimate goal is to make high profits from buying at bargain prices.

A fund is financed by a group of investors and established by an investment manager, such as the international firm Goldman Sachs.

In the Cruise Park case, the Goldman Sachs fund Beltany Property Finance purchased an €89m loan that had been taken out by Vieira with Ulster Bank.

The security for that loan was Tyrrelstown Shopping Centre, a large land bank in the area and the 103 houses which were rented by developers Richard and Michael Larkin, and which families have now been asked to leave so they can be sold.

After the loan was purchased by the fund, the borrowed money had to be repaid with interest to it, rather than the bank.

If the loan goes unpaid, then the vulture fund is able to take legal action and ultimately seek to take possession of the homes and land.

Action

However, it is understood that the Larkins are continuing to pay back the monies owed to the fund and that no further legal action had been taken.

A decision has now been made to sell off the homes by the Larkins, with the amount going towards repaying the original debt.

It was not just local residents who have been left worried by the development, but also the local Tyrrelstown GAA club.

The Larkins have indicated to the club that they may also sell off the land where the club has its pitches.

"If we have to move, the club doesn't have the finances to sustain that," club secretary Charlie Cleary said.

Fianna Fail's finance spokesman Michael McGrath has said that protection from vulture funds for small business, mortgage holders and tenants should be a top priority.

Speaking about the Tyrrelstown case, he said that there was now little doubt that we are going to see more of these developments in the months ahead unless concerted action was taken.

"Clearly vulture funds feel that there is limited sanction in the law as it currently stands to prevent them putting SMEs into receivership or seeking repossession of family and buy to let properties.

"We have already seen vulture funds use underhand tactics to trigger default on the part of borrowers in an attempt to gain control of very valuable assets. There is a real risk now that action of this type will be stepped up once these funds feel that the political backdrop is more favourable for them."

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