Unnecessary Credit Union restrictions an election issue — Harkin

Local MEP Marian Harkin has called on Ireland’s three million credit union members to consider the government’s anti credit union policies in the context of the upcoming general election.

In a statement, responding to the signing by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan of restrictions on the amount of deposits an individual can hold in a credit union, she described the decision as a blatant attempt to divert deposits away from credit unions to the banks.

“Credit Unions have, with few exceptions, withstood the financial crisis and its ongoing after effects and remained in, and served, their communities while providing a bulwark against moneylenders. However they have been subjected to unnecessary and disproportionate regulation from a Central Bank that, itself, had played a damaging role in the financial crisis,” she said.

“In a recent statement the Chief Executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions said ‘Credit Unions want to evolve and change but are increasingly frustrated at the regulatory road blocks put in our path. These road blocks threaten the ability of credit unions to serve in communities throughout the country in the future’. My experience in dealing with credit unions over the years fully endorses these views of the ILCU Chief Executive.

“Typical of this government’s anti credit union policies, it is determined to restrict credit unions in offering mortgages and being a safe and productive home for the funds of community conscious savers. Instead of encouraging credit unions to continue their community favouring policies the government has restricted them in their lending and forced them to place their surplus funds at derisory rates of interest with the banks which then lend at a multiple interest rate,” added MEP Harkin.

“We have a combination of a discredited Central Bank, attempting to make up for their deficiencies of the past, and a government seeking to add value to their shares in the banks, actively pursuing policies which have little to do with prudence or efficiency. I call upon the Credit Union Advisory Committee to be open and fair in the coming months in assessing the justification for the €100,000 limit on individual deposits in Credit Unions and on the government to pull back from its unacceptable and wrong-headed anti-credit union policies.The Government needs to hear from Credit Union members in the next election, while all candidates in that election should clearly state in their manifestos where they stand in relation to the restrictions placed on credit unions and this government’s failure to acknowledge the unique role they play in enhancing their communities”, she concluded.

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