The new regulatory framework for credit unions must protect the movement’s voluntary and inclusive ethos, according to Labour Galway West TD Derek Nolan.
Dep Nolan made his call in Dáil Éireann this week while speaking on the Credit Union Bill. He said credit unions required new regulation to ensure the savings of its members were not put at risk.
He said the credit union “is an extremely positive movement” and that regulation “should do no harm” to its “positive attributes”.
“A credit union is not a bank,” he said. “It has been there, historically, to help people who cannot get credit from a bank. We have to maintain that flexibility within the credit union movement to facilitate those people who do not have access to credit on a normal basis.”
He also said new legislation should recognise “the unique role credit unions can play in social finance”.
As an example he gave St Columba’s Credit Union in Galway city, which “operates as a large, well run credit union but also has a subsidiary arm called St Columba’s Credit Union Limited Enterprises”.
“This company uses it resources and deposits in an innovative way,” he said. “It has invested in community neighbourhood projects in the Ballybane area of the city where a library was put in place. The habitat centre in the area that was funded by the credit union won an award.”
Dep Nolan said the example of St Columba’s credit union is “a model of how the credit union movement can be involved with community organisations, fund projects and serve members at the same time. This role should be enshrined in legislation”.