League of credit unions says it will lobby for changes to Credit Union Bill
THE IRISH League of Credit Unions has said it will continue to lobby for changes to the Credit Union Bill after former senator Joe O’Toole accused it of having “learned nothing and forgotten nothing” about financial governance and probity.
The league, which represents 3.1 million members, called for changes to a number of aspects of the Credit Union Bill, including those which it feels would prevent it from sharing electronic lodgement and withdrawal services between branches.
It is also concerned about restrictions on officers serving in more than one branch.
The league said a further issue is that while the Bill provides for an appeal process to the Irish Financial Services Appeal Tribunal, a concurrent Bill regarding the Central Bank directs appeals to the High and Supreme Courts.
Mr O’Toole said it appeared “internal ILCU matters are taking precedence over a Government commitment to make the guts of €1 billion available to solve the credit union difficulties...in short to create a viable and safe Irish Credit Union movement”.
Mr O’Toole and ILCU chief executive Kieran Brennan both served on the Government’s Commission on Credit Unions which Mr O’Toole claims agreed a report which is the basis for the current legislation “unanimously and [it] was acclaimed and welcomed by every significant group including the ILCU”.
He says no group had more representation on that commission than the ILCU.
The two men have subsequently served on an implementation group to monitor the progress of action on the commission’s recommendations, Mr O’Toole said. It had been pleased with progress and there were no disagreements within the group.
“Then two weeks after we had sat around a table together impressing on the department the importance of keeping to the implementation schedule Kieran launches a campaign to delete some and dilute other key recommendations,” he said.
The league said it believes directions issued to it from the Central Bank under the Central Bank Bill would negate its ability to appeal to the financial services tribunal.
Mr Brennan says the application of the Central Bank Acts 1942-2011 to credit unions was neither discussed nor agreed at the commission and would be onerous for a voluntary organisation.
While the league welcomed most reforms in the Credit Union Bill, the “discrepancies” between the recommendations of the Commission on Credit Unions and the Credit Union Bill itself needed to be addressed, he said.
He said the league was “fully supportive of the need to assist the restructuring of the credit union sector” but he believed restructuring would need to be in done “in a manner that does not ignore the voluntary nature and ethos of the movement”.