The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) would like to clarify a number of points about the general wellbeing of credit unions across the country.
We would first of all like to reassure our 3 million members that their savings are secure and safe and protected under the Government’s Deposit Guarantee Scheme of up to €100,000 per depositor.
With regard to the recent announcement in relation to the appointment of a ‘Special Manager’ Newbridge Credit Union, the ILCU notes that while Newbridge is not affiliated to the Irish League of Credit Unions, the move by the Central Bank of Ireland to appoint a special manager was necessary in the interests of the members of the credit union
A strong, viable and competitive credit union alternative to the remaining commercial banks operating in the State is a public imperative. The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) is focused on how this alternative can be provided and on identifying the legislative and regulatory changes that are required to ensure it will be achieved. The deliberations of the Governmental Commission on Credit Unions continue towards agreeing a comprehensive strategy around a restructuring of the credit union movement in the Republic of Ireland. The Commission will report to the Minister in March 2012.
Irish credit unions remain open for business and unlike other institutions, are still providing loans to their members. Credit unions continue to welcome new members to the Movement every day and over the past two years over 100,000 new members all across the country joined their local credit union, this is unprecedented in times of economic crisis.
The close relationship between credit unions and their membership means that our fortunes are affected by theirs. Last year was extremely tough for Irish people with financial pressures as a result of continued austerity measures and increasing costs becoming a worrying burden for families and individuals alike. When our members suffer, we suffer but we will always do our best to support our members in difficulty.
Credit unions have been serving local communities around the country for over 50 years now, in this time credit unions have come through periods of economic unrest and we believe that this will be the case now. In fact credit unions have performed well given the current financial crisis compared to the banks.
The vast majority of credit unions have sufficient funds available to lend to members once an appropriate evaluation of the members ability to repay has been completed. And while the lending restrictions implemented by the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank are having an impact on some credit unions, others are completely unaffected by these developments and continue to offer and promote loans to established credit unions members.
Credit unions were founded to provide affordable credit and the credit union ethos is focused on providing accessible, friendly and not for profit financial services in communities across the country. To the best of our abilities we will work with a member in difficulty. We would strongly urge any member who is under financial pressure to approach their local credit union and talk to us about their situation. I will conclude by simply saying that the credit union movement recognises that change is necessary, but this does not involve sacrificing our ethos and core values. However, change does involve recognising that there may well be better ways to provide services to our members. For those members who are worried our concerned in light of recent announcements, staff in credit unions across the country will be happy to talk to you and answer your questions.
By Kieron Brennan, CEO, Irish League of Credit Unions