ILCU welcomes the inclusion of commitments to credit unions in Programme for Government

Posted on: 15 Jun 2020

The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) welcomes the inclusion of specific commitments to credit unions in the agreed Programme for Government (PFG) – Our Shared Future. Of particular note are the commitments on page 23 of the document where the Government commits to;

  • Review the policy framework within which credit unions operate

  • Enable and support the credit union movement to grow.

  • Support credit unions in the expansion of services to encourage community development.

The ILCU believes there is a disconnect between the Minister for Finance who has official responsibility for credit union policy, and the Central Bank which is responsible for regulation, but which has no developmental role and no understanding of the volunteer led, democratic organization of our movement.
The commitment to a review of the policy framework, although long overdue, is welcome. The ILCU will work with the new Government in ensuring this review delivers on a transformative agenda for credit unions locally. That agenda includes, but is not limited to, the two further commitments outlined above. The credit union movement has massive unrealized potential to be a viable alternative to banks if the right policy framework is put in place.

The ILCU also welcomes therefore, the commitment on page 20 of the PFG document to “enable the credit union movement to grow as a key provider of community banking in the country.” An independent report from Indecon International Economic Consultants on Community Banking in Ireland, commissioned by the Minister for Finance and published in December 2019, stated: “Credit unions are considered to be a ‘community bank’ with an increasing offering of financial products for their members.” The ILCU looks forward to working with the Department of Finance in enabling credit unions to becoming the key providers of community banking across Ireland.

The ILCU also notes the commitment on page 38 to “Work with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland to develop funding options to deliver retrofitting with suitable retail partners, such as An Post and the Credit Unions”. The ILCU has been developing a deep retrofit loan product over the past few months and looks forward to engaging with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland in due course.

Commenting on the commitments outlined in today’s Programme for Government, ILCU President Gerry Thompson said, “I am pleased to see that our lobbying and campaigning efforts at national level, and those of our members at local level, has resulted in the inclusion of a clear role for credit unions in the economic future of our country and in local communities. In particular I welcome the commitment to review the policy framework within which credit unions operate, as our member credit unions are restricted in achieving their full potential under the current policy and legislative framework. The ILCU looks forward to working with the Department of Finance and the three parties in government who are making these political commitments, to ensure they become reality.”

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For interview requests please phone Aoife Breathnach 087 350 4810 or email abreathnach@creditunion.ie