Credit unions could face mergers

There could be mergers of some local credit unions but there are unlikely to be closures, according to a St Canice’s Credit Union board member.

There could be mergers of some local credit unions but there are unlikely to be closures, according to a St Canice’s Credit Union board member.

Board member Ian Coulter was speaking following a report issued by the commission established last year by the minister for finance on the present and future viability of credit unions in Ireland.

There around 490 credit unions in Ireland, compared with 40 in Australia, he pointed out, and “the good thing about the service in Ireland is that 67% of the population have credit union accounts – and in Kilkenny it’s probably nearly 80%.”

There will now be a review of all Irish credit unions to see how strongly capitalised they are.

“What I think is going to happen is that there will be some mergers and some will retain their independence because some are strong enough to do that,” Mr Coulter said, noting that St Canice’s Credit Union is overcapitalised at the moment, which means it is in a position to continue lending.

Some credit unions across the country have already begun to join forces. For example, there was a merger, or “transfer of engagements,” between Dunnamaggin and St Canice’s Credit Union last year. Mr Coulter pointed out that no offices were closed, however, and the services were expanded in Dunnamaggin, although it isn’t open as many hours as it was previously.

“The hours they are open, there is good business being done there and it is still an integral part of the community,” he said.

And, he said, “where there will be mergers, there will be an improvement in services by simply having more capital.”