Credit Unions play ‘crucial role in supporting the wellbeing of communities and families’ – Ó Caoláin
Speaking in the Dáil this evening on the need to better support our credit unions, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called upon the government to recognise the enormous economic and social importance of credit unions in local communities and also to recognise the real and viable alternative they provide to the banks that lent so loosely and recklessly, leading our country to the brink of collapse.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The Bill before us this evening lays out the size and importance of the network of credit unions across the state. With just under 3 million members and 400 offices, it employs 4,000 people and enjoys the support of a further 10,000 volunteers.
“It is instantly comparable to the GAA, a hugely important organisation that exists for the betterment of friends and neighbours with a strong volunteer effort. Reference is made by Fianna Fáil to the fact that only one percent of credit unions needed state funding since the beginning of the crash. It is most unfortunate that the banks were not prudent enough or controlled well enough to be as wise. Thankfully, our local credit unions represent a more wholesome and helpful body.
“They are faced with challenges, however. Almost half of credit unions have lending restrictions and lending is decreasing, putting the long-term prospects of the sector at risk. The Irish League of Credit Unions tell us that the sector has approximately €5bn to lend but that it is unable to do so due to restrictions.
“The credit unions are a good and viable alternative to the avarice and shameless greed of the institutions that brought this state to its knees.
“This PMB calls for a white paper and a forum, investment in infrastructure, a revisiting of the limits on lending and the addition of services.
“These measures must be examined and brought in in a prudent way to allow credit unions to reach their full potential. Credit unions are a positive force for customers and communities across the state. I am hugely supportive of credit unions and believe that they now have, as they have had in recent years, a crucial role in supporting the wellbeing of people and families as they struggle to emerge from this financial crisis.”