Belfast Telegraph

Banks accused of blackmail over EU payments for small farmers

By Charlie Weston

Banks have been accused of blackmailing small farmers in the Republic after it emerged that a number of them are being threatened with having their overdraft facilities withdrawn.

The farmers have been told they must have their EU payments deposited into the account where they have their overdraft or the facility will no longer be offered.

One Kerry farmer, who contacted Belfast Telegraph sister newspaper the Irish Independent, explained that his single farm payment was going into a Bank of Ireland deposit account.

The farmer, who does not want to be named, explained that he has a €9,000 overdraft facility with Ulster Bank.

But he was contacted by Ulster Bank and told his overdraft facility would be withdrawn unless he had his single farm payment paid into his Ulster Bank current account.

“I was told that their policy had changed. They said they would cancel the overdraft if I don't have my single farm payment going into the Ulster Bank account,” he said. “I think it is blackmail.”

A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank said it was committed to working closely with the agri-sector and continued to work with the IFA to develop support initiatives for the farming community.

“While we will not comment on individual cases, the overdraft facility is used in conjunction with the main current account and requires regular account lodgements in order to maintain the facility,” she added.

Earlier this month the leaders of the main churches in Northern Ireland accused banks of behaving immorally in their lending practices towards small businesses.

Belfast Telegraph