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Banking: After wolves, Ireland fends off vultures

The near collapse of Ireland’s banks during the financial crisis did little to endear them to the nation. Now, as they return to profitability, the banks find themselves involved in another political controversy; this time over their attempts to sell off non-performing loans.


Jeremy Masding has said that he regards himself as a guest in Ireland. A Welshman with a Greek wife, who took his first step into banking at Barclays as a teenager in 1984, Masding uprooted his family in 2012 to relocate to Dublin as the newly appointed chief executive of Ireland’s third largest bank, Permanent TSB (PTSB). It was a brave move. 

“It was a big decision for me because at the time I wasn’t sure that the bank would be fixable,” he recalls.

Six years after Masding’s arrival in Ireland, a handful of his hosts appear to have forgotten one of the fundamental principles of hospitality, which is to avoid being rude to your guests. 

At a recent hearing at the Houses of the Oireachtas (parliament) finance committee, one local politician accused PTSB of behaviour that would make Pontius Pilate blush – and a good deal else besides. Others picked up a popular refrain when they said that PTSB was guilty of throwing Irish households to the wolves. Both inflammatory remarks were in reference to PTSB’s plans to sell some of its non-performing loans to private, or so-called vulture funds.

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