The news today that Credit Unions nationwide are to pool their assets and come together to create a third banking force are very welcome and something that I have been proposing since I was elected.
The banks have largely abandoned rural Ireland and it is time that the Credit Unions has were allowed to step in and take the place previously occupied by the banks. There are 335 active credit unions in the country with assets in excess or 13 billion Euro and there are 3 million members of Credit Unions nationwide. It is a huge movement and many of those Credit Unions are serving rural Ireland well for decades past. Previously there has been much red tape and regulation preventing Credit Unions from issuing products like debit cards and mortgages but I am now calling on the Government to review these regulations. I note that well known financial guru Dr Eddie Molloy has come up with radical proposals that would allow Credit Unions to take on the banks but retain their local connections. That is exactly what I have been proposing. I also note that he is recommending a two year time frame to implement the changes. The Government, the Regulator and the Central Bank must now co-operate and put the arrangements in place to allow these changes to happen. We need fair and equal competition to take on the banks and it’s not before time.