Credit Unions want more control

CALLS for the easing of restrictions to allow credit unions operate in a freer business environment are to be made at the national credit union conference this weekend.

Ireland has 531 credit unions, north and south of the border with close to three million members. The 1,000 delegates will be hoping to finalise a two-year strategic plan for the credit union movement to April 2007 and update the movement’s rules to facilitate continued development.

“To continue developing the movement, legislative change will be required in the coming two-year period,” said Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) president John O’Regan last night. Such legislation would allow the ILCU to continue its business development and information technology (IT) will have a key role in the future.

More than 4,000 people are expected to attend the conference, which will also include a financial services and IT exhibition area, at the National Events Centre in Killarney.

The ILCU has just announced its best ever results with savings by its members reaching €12.5 billion.

Mr O’Regan, from Causeway, Co Kerry, said the movement faced many challenges, but also had many good opportunities to make a growing contribution to the economic and social life of Ireland.

“A united and cohesive credit union movement will meet, address and overcome even the sternest challenges. We will continue to empower our communities and provide access to financial services to people and places who might otherwise not have such access.”

Recent research found that credit unions were seen as the most trustworthy, helpful, customer-focused and community-concerned financial service providers. The same research showed that 40% of adults in the Republic of Ireland who have a savings account have it with a credit union. Credit unions are also Ireland’s leading providers of unsecured personal loans and social finance. At mid-2004, social finance loans approved were in excess of €500 million.

Tomorrow night the ILCU will, for the first time appoint a woman as its president. Candidates are ILCU vice-president Anne O’Byrne, Blessington and District Credit Union, Co Wicklow, and ILCU treasurer Carmel Dowling, Mitchelstown CU and Fermoy CU, Co Cork.

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