Independent TD Michael Collins has praised the not-for-profit status and strong community ethos of west Cork Credit Unions including those in Schull, Castletownbere, Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Dunmanway, Bandon and Kinsale.
Deputy Collins was speaking during a Dáil debate on The Credit Union (Amendment) Bill 2022 which seeks to introduce major reforms to how Credit Unions are regulated and operated within the state.
However, the Independent TD was sharply critical of the long delay in introducing such reforms which have been called for and supported by organisations such as the Irish League of Credit Unions:
“The Credit Union movement is of one of the few institutions that has not suffered from any negative downgrading in its reputation for trust and reliability among ordinary people, farmers, fishermen and small businesses,” said Deputy Collins.
“It is vital that this reputation is protected as moves are being made to allow for a greater expansion of the financial services it can offer.”
“It is even more important given the absolute dependence that many rural communities have on Credit Unions in terms of access to cash and since the main pillar banks decided to adopt a policy of neglect toward rural Ireland.”
“I would also note how striking it is that this is the first major piece of Government legislation dealing with our Credit Unions since 2011. That demonstrates to me the stranglehold that the banks have had on the legislative process. They have been the tail wagging the financial dog in this state for far too long. I fervently hope that this position of dominance can be broken, thereby allowing the €20 billion in resources that the Credit Unions have built up to be fully utilised.”
“Every week I see the care and the community ethos of the Credit Unions in action through their support of upfront loans to those seeking access to vital eye-care in Belfast. No bank would operate in this way on such a consistent basis,” Deputy Collins concluded.