Beara residents to stage protest against credit union’s closure

A West Cork community is planning to protest the closure of its local credit union in a bid to maintain the service.

Locals are planning to protest outside Berehaven Credit Union on Main Street, Castletownbere, at 1pm tomorrow, following High Court orders issued on Wednesday for it to be wound up.

The collapse of the credit union left its 3,500 members on the remote Beara Peninsula in shock.

Georgina Goulding, from Reentrisk, on the Cod’s Head, 18km from Castletownbere, hopes at least one third of the 3,500 credit union’s members will turn out.

The service is invaluable to peninsula residents, Goulding says, many of whom are elderly or do not drive. “We are not worried about our money — they have told us members’ savings are guaranteed up to €100,000. We are a small community and this has been a fantastic service for us in the area. The aim is to have the credit union reopened, to work out whatever problems exist,” she said.

A member of Berehaven Credit Union for the past 10 years, Ms Goulding, who ran a health food store in Castletownbere, used the service to obtain an overdraft at a time when she was turned down by the local bank.

“Once, when I desperately needed an overdraft and was refused by the bank, I went to the credit union and they gave it to me and I was able to pay it back on the agreed terms over three years.

“That was invaluable to me, it kept me afloat. The service has got so many people out of a hole, helped them get by, especially young families facing back-to-school costs. It’s not high-level lending, it’s at local level, providing people with cash for necessities,” she said.

The news of the wind-down comes as rumours spread that the local post office may also close, Ms Goulding said.

Local business owners fear the loss of the credit union will have a detrimental, knock-on effect on the local economy. Independent Cllr for West Cork, Michael Collins, said he would support protesters. “There’s a huge issue here for businesses and local people affected by the closure. I will give my full support to any negotiations to save the credit union in Castletownbere.” he said.

The protest takes place outside Berehaven Credit Union at 1pm tomorrow.


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