Updated: 16/02/16 : 07:25:38
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Fianna Fáil will strengthen the Credit Union sector – Mac Sharry

Fianna Fáil candidate for Sligo-Leitrim Senator Marc Mac Sharry has received a commitment from his party that it will support and strengthen the credit union sector if elected.

“Credit Unions have a proud tradition in communities throughout the country. They have expert local knowledge and strong personal relationships and this allows them to make sound judgements about lending to individual customers, small businesses, the self-employed and farmers here in the North West. Under this Government, bank branches have been closing and in-branch services have been restricted, disproportionately affecting vulnerable customers such as the elderly. This is why Fianna Fáil believes credit unions provide important competition and choice to consumers”, explained Senator Mac Sharry.

“Michael Noonan has disingenuously claimed that it has cost €1 billion to support credit unions. In fact, the net cost of state support is in the region of €11m.  By making erroneous claims on the costs of supporting credit unions, the Government is trying to deliberately undermine the sector.

“Instead of weakening the sector, Fianna Fáil is committed to implementing measures to help the sector & local communities flourish. We will:

•           Lift the €100,000 savings caps on credit unions: Although this will not affect the vast
            majority of credit union customers, the restriction can potentially drive funds from the
            sector & distorts competition between banks and credit unions for new deposits.

•           Support IT investment:  This will improve connectivity between the credit union branches
            and give members a network wherever they are located.

•           Implement a tiered regulatory approach: Smaller credit unions will have a lower
            regulatory demand on them to allow them to offer basic services for their members. This
            will allow strong, safe credit unions to develop the services they offer.

•           Support the roll out of new products: Branches have invested in compliance &
            despite recommendations by the Commission on Credit Unions, not a single new product
            or service has been sanctioned by the registrar. We believe larger credit unions should
            be allowed to offer a wider range of products and services through broader investment 
            and lending.

•           Ease long term lending restrictions: The sector has significant potential to provide funds
            for mortgage lending for both social and commercial housing, and we will remove
            current restrictions which bar this.

•           Extend the role of the Credit Union advisory committee: to include representatives from
            credit unions directly to ensure their voices are heard and future regulation in implemented
            in the interest of consumers and underpins the sectors full potential.

“Fianna Fáil believes that by implementing these measures, credit unions can continue to serve our towns and villages across the North West and play a role in creating a fairer recovery for all of our communities.”