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Posted on: 26 Apr 2021

"Collaboration and co-operation are key for credit unions to maximise future potential and deliver on Community Banking” - Minister Seán Fleming tells Irish League of Credit Unions AGM

Over 190 credit unions attended the Annual General Meeting of the Irish League of Credit Unions which was held virtually on Saturday, 24th April. Addressing the meeting, Minister for State at the Department of Finance, Séan Fleming TD, told delegates that collaboration and co-operation are key for credit unions to maximise their future potential.  

Minister Fleming said, “Shared service structures and cooperation between credit unions can reduce costs, provide scale and help deliver new services to members which may not be possible for individual credit unions to provide on their own.” 

He continued “As such, I welcome and support the many collaborative initiatives underway at present. By realising these projects and delivering these services to your members and communities, you will deliver much of what we describe as Community Banking.” 

Also addressing the meeting was Patrick Casey, Central Bank Registrar of Credit Unions, who referred to the current challenges faced by credit unions. Mr Casey said, “Your real challenges are commercial in nature, and they're about finding ways to lend to your more economically active members.” 

Mr Casey continued, “Lending to more economically active members offers a path to sustainability. It puts member savings to a productive use, aligned to the objects of credit unions. It will ensure an ongoing funding need for growth in savings, and it will help to mitigate the imbalance between savings and loans.” 

Delegates also heard from Chris Donald from the Prudential Regulation Authority, the UK based Regulator of Northern Ireland credit unions, who outlined how crucial the credit union sector is to local communities in Northern Ireland. Commenting on the positive aspects of credit unions, including financial reserves in terms of regulatory capital, and reserves of members goodwill and loyalty, Mr Donald said, “Credit unions have met a number of very significant operational challenges positively and, in most cases, effectively over the past year, but now is not the time to step back. It's absolutely essential that credit unions continue to build and maintain good governance arrangements and that they regularly and critically review their key financial metrics, particularly around credit quality.” 

At the AGM, Helene McManus of Kilcloon & District Credit Union was elected as the new ILCU President. Helene is only the second woman President in the sixty one year history of the Irish League of Credit Unions, the first being Anne O’Byrne in 2005. 

Following her election, President Helene McManus said “I am both honoured and humbled to be elected President of the Irish League of Credit Unions. This is a critical time for our movement particularly with the withdrawal of the pillar banks from our communities. Credit unions, which are founded in communities, are here to stay, and will continue to provide financial services to people in towns and villages across the island in the absence of the banks.” 

Continuing, Ms McManus said, “I welcome Minister Fleming’s comments regarding collaboration and co-operation as the key to credit union sustainability. The Irish League of Credit Unions is the ultimate collaborative model and we will continue to work on behalf of our member credit unions to assist them in reaching their full potential on behalf of their members. I look forward to working with the regulatory authorities in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, on behalf of ILCU members, to ensure that a pragmatic, yet robust regulatory regime, appropriate to credit unions, is maintained.” 

During the AGM, credit unions also heard from Brian Branch, President and CEO of WOCCU (World Council of Credit Unions).