3 December 2015
By Bryan Smyth
Sinn Féin General Election Candidate Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called on the Government to reinvest what is left of the Credit Union fund into local communities.
It has been confirmed that €230m of the fund, established to aid the merging of Credit Unions, is no longer required for this purpose.
Councillor Ó Laoghaire said;
“The Credit Union Movement is an organisation of enormous value to our Local Communities and gives crucial access to credit to those who would struggle to get credit from Banks.. It is very positive to see that some €230 from the ReBo (Credit Union Restructuring Board) fund will now be saved, but it shouldn’t come as any surprise, the Irish League of Credit Unions had long signposted this.”
“The Credit Union Movement deserve credit for their professionalism in saving so much, particularly given the enormous constraints that they have been put under. I believe that the Government have, illogically, limited to the development and activity of the Credit Union Movement, and the restrictions are making it very difficult for them to compete.
“In that regulatory climate, I think it’s clearly appropriate that the Government work with them to put this money to use in our communities. This could meet particular Social Needs, and indeed, the ILCU have proposals on social housing and financing SMEs well worthy of consideration if this money was directed in that manner.”
Cllr Ó Laoghaire also called on the Government to give the Credit Union movement a bigger role in the Market.
“The Credit Union Movement came through the crisis quite well, and has €13bn in assets, yet the Government is restricting their activity hugely. This is allowing banks an unnecessary level of dominance.
“85% of the market is concentrated in two pillar banks. This influences the decisions they make mortgage interest rates, mortgage arrears, lending and customer service, and in a way that rarely suits the customer.
“The Credit Unions are telling us they could be doing a lot more if allowed to do so. There is no doubt a need for regulation, but if the Government wants the Credit Unions sector to play a significant role, then it has to allow them to be more active, an unfair double standard is being applied.”