Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Presbyterian Mutual Society savers 'feel forgotten'

The comments were made during a meeting at Stormont

Savers who cannot get access to money they put into the troubled Presbyterian Mutual Society feel "forgotten", a Treasury committee has been told.

The remarks were made during a hearing at Stormont by the chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select committee, Labour MP John McFall.

The committee was also told the PMS had sizeable and "sound" assets.

Ten thousand savers have not been able to access their money since the society went into administration in late 2008.

In a series of meetings at Stormont on Monday, the committee members met savers, local politicians and representatives from the Presbyterian Church.

Breakthrough hopes

The committee examined the background to the PMS collapse and discussed whether there was enough protection for PMS savers.

The Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Stafford Carson, said those who have money in the society were hoping for a breakthrough.

He added that many savers had been very patient and were hoping they would soon get access to their funds.

The Acting First Minister Arlene Foster and the Finance Minister Sammy Wilson were among those who gave evidence at the hearing.

Mr Wilson told the committee that the PMS had sizeable assets which he described as sound and said discussions involving a commercial organisation were continuing.

PMS future

He also said he was hopeful a report by a ministerial working group, outlining the future of the PMS, could be published soon.

The SDLP leader Mark Durkan was among the MLAs attending the committee hearing and said he hoped it would "highlight the reality of the scale and nature of the plight of PMS savers".

"There is a need for greater clarity, especially for the families and congregations that are hardest hit - they are all understandably very frustrated at this stage," he said.

The society ran out of cash when investors withdrew money because the PMS was not covered by a government savings guarantee, introduced at the height of the financial crisis.

Last week a high court judge said he might allow an administrator to run the PMS until 2015, if a buyer is not found.

In December it was reported that a bank was interested in taking over the PMS and that talks were at "an advanced stage", however no further progress has been reported since.

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