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Sinn Féin welcome motion into the Role and Potential of Credit Unions

16 February, 2009

Sinn Fein MLA and Deputy Chair of the Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee, Jennifer McCann, has welcomed the publishing of the report on the Inquiry into the Role and Potential of Credit unions in the north of Ireland. Speaking ahead of a motion calling on the Assembly to approve the report Ms McCann said:

"The recent Inquiry carried out by the Committee of Enterprise, Trade & Investment into Credit Unions here exposed a number of barriers that prevent credit unions in the North offering similar Financial Services to their counterparts in England and the South of Ireland.

"This is now the report into the role locally for Credit Unions and I welcome the Committee for Enterprise trade and Investment for bringing it forward.

"I believe that in the interests of offering our communities access to key financial services at an affordable rate, particularly in the present adverse financial conditions, and in a more consumer friendly atmosphere that the Minister should listen to the proposals by Credit Union of Ireland and Ulster Federation of Credit Unions.

"With the growth of the Credit Union Movement throughout Ireland over the past 30 to 40 years people living in economically deprived communities and areas of social disadvantage were for the first time - through establishment of Credit Unions - given access to financial services that where up until then unattainable for them.

"The Credit Union is community based and is open to anyone irrespective of the economic situation or whether they have assets are not. They are widely referred to as the 'People's Bank and offer a life line to those who would not be eligible for a bank loan.

"As it's becoming more difficult to make day to day financial transactions without a bank account I believe that restrictions on Credit Unions offering a wider range of financial services to meet the changing needs of their customers should be removed.

"It is essential that people have access to the most competitive rates for saving and borrowing given the recent downturn in the financial climate.. Credit Unions are community based and the added income from expanded services should be able to be invested in the social economy for the benefit of the community to which the Credit Union belongs."

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