Donegal TD and Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, with Irish League of Credit Unions President Charles Murphy at a special meeting in Letterkenny on Friday February 2nd.
Donegal credit unions affiliated to the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) held a special meeting with Sinn Féin TD for Donegal, Pearse Doherty this evening.
ILCU President Charles Murphy and ILCU Vice-President Gerry Thompson joined Letterkenny Credit Union’s, and ILCU Board Director, Jim Toner at the meeting. Together with local credit union representatives, they highlighted to Mr Doherty, the party’s Spokesperson on Finance, the potential for credit unions to play an enhanced role in local communities in Donegal.
At the meeting, credit union delegates also outlined the scale of the credit union movement in Donegal. Local credit unions have €430 million in assets. Membership in the area has hit 106,000. These members have savings of €355 million with their credit unions and are benefitting from €140 million in fair and affordable loans.
Another key point of discussion was the credit union proposal to provide funding for social housing. These comprehensive proposals were put together in response to a Government request in November 2014, and outlined in detail how surplus credit union funds could be used for social housing. Credit unions stand ready to deliver on this, but there has not been the necessary action from Government to date.
Speaking following the meeting, Pearse Doherty said: “Credit unions are a much-loved, highly respected and utilised institution in Donegal, as they are across the island of Ireland. The meeting tonight has been very productive and I was presented with a clear outline of the even greater role that credit unions can play locally, should they be enabled by regulations to broaden the scope and range of their services.
"For my part, I will continue as I have done, to ensure that the credit union movement is supported in its service expansion, for instance the upcoming roll-out of a centralised, residential mortgage solution. This support is crucial in ensuring credit unions can play an even greater role as significant alternatives to the banks. I am working with the ILCU to put forward concrete legislative proposals that will benefit the movement and its members.”
ILCU President Charles Murphy, also commented: “Tonight’s meeting presented a great opportunity to outline to Pearse Doherty TD the much more credit unions can do both nationally, and locally in his own constituency of Donegal. The potential for credit unions to grow and provide an even greater depth of services locally however requires enhanced support by government policy and appropriate regulation at national level. It was reassuring to hear that Mr Doherty was very supportive of this position. This meeting also provided me with an opportunity, on behalf of local credit unions and the ILCU, to thank Mr Doherty for his continued work on behalf of the credit union movement.”
Another topic of discussion at the meeting was credit union micro-loans for social welfare recipients. 113 credit unions across Ireland are now in a position to offer the loan. There are almost 6,000 live loans via this scheme. In Donegal, a number of credit unions are in a position to offer the loan, including B&S Credit Union, Ballyshannon & Killybegs Credit Union, Letterkenny Credit Union, Sheephaven Credit Union and Swilly Mulroy Credit Union.
The event is one in a series of meetings which the ILCU is holding with TDs and Cabinet Ministers to call for greater Government action on commitments outlined in the Programme for Government and the Confidence and Supply Arrangement. These include a commitment to develop a strategy for the growth and development of the credit union sector, amongst others.