Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Budget 2022: Statements (Resumed)
Paddy Burke (Fine Gael)
I thank Senator Cummins for sharing his time. I welcome the Minister of State to the House. Senator Ruane raised a very important issue and a very important aspect of the budget. I share Senator Ruane's view and I support her on this point. This needs resources and I hope it is an area that will be looked at in the future as it is very important.
I want to raise two aspects. I cannot let the opportunity go without raising the issue of the closure of bank branches by Bank of Ireland, three of which were in County Mayo, at Swinford, Charlestown and Ballyhaunis. Ballyhaunis is a town of more than 2,000 population and it now has no bank. In that town, there is the second largest chicken processor in the country, a large meat plant, several medium-size engineering companies, sand and gravel quarries and some of the biggest plant operators in the country, in addition to pubs, restaurants and other small businesses. This is a town that has opened its doors to immigrants yet the town has no bank. I ask the Minister of State to look at this. We are now asking the post office service to take up the slack but it does not have the capacity to provide a service to those types of business. It is an area that should be looked at.
I also ask the Minister of State to look at the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, which is money borrowed by the Government at cheap rates to build the economy, build houses and fund small builders, developers and small businesses at low interest rates. I am being told that the people availing of those loans are being fleeced by legal charges, not by the developers’ or the builders’ own legal people, but by legal people representing the banks. In some cases, it is costing up to 10%. Therefore, where a person is borrowing €1 million, which is not a lot in regard to developing housing or a small business, 10% of it goes in legal charges to the legal people representing the banks. It is criminal. If we look at this situation, the builder or developer only has one person looking after the legal aspect but, at the banks’ end, there is a whole raft of legal people looking after it, mostly from the big four. This is putting off people from borrowing and developing, particularly if 10% of the money they are trying to draw down is going on legal fees.I thank the Acting Chairperson, Senator Seery Kearney, for the latitude.