Irwin to seek banks meeting

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Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Westminster election candidate William Irwin MLA has requested a meeting with senior banking officials in response to concerns farmers have expressed over rising repayment pressures.

Mr Irwin said it was vital that banks strike a balance between recouping their money and putting the brakes on any recovery for farmers who borrowed through a very difficult period.

He added: “I have received calls from farmers from across the province and many are concerned by the attitude of banks in regards to repayments. Farmers in many cases borrowed money to keep their businesses functioning, through what was a very difficult and prolonged economic crisis in the industry.

“What appears to be happening now is that banks have taken the last few months of improved conditions as a green light to ramp up the pressure on our farmers to make bigger, faster repayments. That simply isn’t a sensible course of action as it removes any breathing space for farmers and adds yet more pressure.”

He stated: “Farmers do not want to be in debt, they want to repay their loans as quickly as possible however they want to do this in a way that doesn’t pile further pressure on their farm business.

“With this firmly in mind I have requested a meeting with senior banking officials in order to ensure that this message is heard by those in our banks who are making the decisions. As the saying goes, ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’ and the same applies in this regard – a few better months of prices doesn’t mean that farmers can immediately plough every available penny back to banks. The terms and conditions for repayments need to remain affordable to allow farms to function adequately and efficiently.

“I look forward to meeting senior officials and I can assure farmers that I will be relaying a message of leniency and a longer term view as our industry needs stability in order to strengthen and progress.”