IRISH LEAGUE OF CREDIT UNIONS AGM – ‘GROWTH IN OUR HANDS’
Media Release: 27 April 2015
CREDIT UNIONS STRENGTHEN: ARREARS FALL, DIVIDEND PAY-OUTS INCREASE, MEMBERSHIP FIGURES UP
FUTURE GROWTH & NEW SERVICES FOR MEMBERS TOP PRIORITY FOR IRISH CREDIT UNIONS
BRIAN MCCRORY ELECTED NEW ILCU PRESIDENT
(26th April 2015) 1,500 delegates from credit unions across Ireland met this weekend in Killarney for the Irish League of Credit Union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the INEC. The theme for the weekend’s conference was ‘Credit Unions – Growth in our Hands.’
Delegates heard presentations and analysis and contributed to detailed discussions on critical aspects of credit union operations. Ongoing regulatory and legislative changes as well as restructuring within the sector were key agenda items, as credit unions move to offer a broader range of services to the increasing needs and demands of their growing membership. Discussions centered around regulation, lending restrictions, access to credit for the vulnerable, electronic services, developing small business and the role that credit unions can play in the housing crisis. On Sunday 26th, Brian McCrory was elected new President of the ILCU.
In the past two years, membership of credit unions has grown by 70,000. Currently, credit union membership stands at 3.3 million members. ILCU affiliated credit unions remain well capitalised (with over €2 billion in reserve) funded out of their own resources. Arrears across the sector have fallen for 12 consecutive quarters in a row while savings and the number of credit unions who are now paying a dividend has increased. The majority of the 365 Republic of Ireland credit unions are now meeting the Central Banks regulatory reserve requirements and in February 2015, the ILCU welcomed an initiative from the Registrar of Credit Union to deliver a comprehensive review of lending restrictions placed on credit unions. The ILCU has been highlighting this issue on behalf of credit unions for some time as the imposition and perception of restrictions across the movement has been very damaging in terms of the overall loan book. The issue of lending restrictions featured heavily in discussions this weekend.
It was the potential to provide members with a greater range of services, in particular, electronic services, that was front and center at AGM 2015. With the exit of international banks from the Irish financial services sector and increasing banking fees, it means that there is now more than ever, greater scope for Ireland’s credit unions to offer a vital link between the Irish public and accessible, community based financial services. Many members are looking to their local credit union for a range of new and enhanced services including electronic services such as direct debits and debit cards. Since a Payment Institution License was granted by the Central Bank to CUSOP (Payments) Limited, the Credit Union Services Organisation for Payments, credit unions are in a position to offer electronic services to their members, where feasible. This means that members can have their wages/salaries or any payments from a bank, employer or social welfare office paid directly into their credit union account by electronic transfer. CUSOP is also focused on bringing a modern and up to date Debit Card solution to credit unions before the end of 2015.
Speaking at the AGM Opening Ceremony, Minster James Reilly said:"The Credit Union Movement plays a vital role in communities throughout the country. Credit Unions are different. Your mission is to help. Your sole focus isn’t profit. Your main focus is the community. Your communities know that they can turn to you for a helping hand. By providing loans to help families manage third level education, back to school expenses and Christmas bills you are keeping many vulnerable people away from unscrupulous loan sharks. By providing loans for home improvements and cars you keep credit flowing through the economy - keeping many people in work."
Commenting on AGM Ed Farrell Acting CEO said: "The credit union movement has played a key role in creating vibrant, local communities and developing our economy and society for half a century by providing accessible financial services and support. This weekend's meeting will be an important one as credit unions look to changes within the movement. The spotlight will be focused on how we can grow the movement and expand credit union service provision to meet the growing needs of our members. This type of service delivery is hugely important to credit unions.”
He continued: “It is a given that change will be necessary for the ongoing renewal, updating and modernisation of our credit unions however, change does not involve sacrificing our ethos and our core values - values which have allowed credit unions to remain a popular financial service provider throughout the years."
For further information, please contact Emma Casey, ILCU Communications Department 01 6146781 / 087 6881571
Note to Editors
About the ILCU
The Irish League of Credit Unions is the representative body for 455 Credit Unions on the island of Ireland. It is Ireland’s successful, not-for-profit, financial co-operative run by – and for – its 3.3 million members.