Independent TD Mattie McGrath has welcomed the invitation extended by Minister of State for Economic Development, Michael Ring , to interested parties who wish to comment on a proposed new model of community banking. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister announced that The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is set to work with the Department of Finance to evaluate the viability of the model in the Irish context:
“This proposal is something that I pushed during the government formation talks and was delighted to see included in the Programme for a Partnership Government document that emerged from that process.
Indeed myself and my colleague Deputy Michael Healy-Rae collaborated on a Private Members Bill that would have specifically provided for the integration and operation of a community banking model throughout the Post Office Network.
Unfortunately that Bill was refused because current Oireachtas Standing Orders forbid legislation from non-governmental parties or groups that will have a cost on the State’s finances. We had argued that this was more about cost saving than expenditure but it was still refused.
However I was delighted that the idea of a community banking model was acceptable unanimously by the Dáil when it voted in favour of our Rural Independent Group Private Members Motion last November.
As part of that Motion we called on the Government to implement a new community banking service operated by An Post to be made available in all post offices throughout the country and that this post community bank should be based on either the New Zealand Kiwibank model or the German Sparkassen model.
This is exactly what the Minister is now doing.
It was reported last year for example that The German Sparkassen (public savings banks) are widely praised for their stability and their service to German savers and small businesses.
We believe the same can happen here and that this is a win win situation all round.
It will greatly bolster the role that the Post Office Network can play and it will offer competition from the dominance of the main banks. I will also help resist any move toward turning local Credit Unions into mini-banks,” concluded Deputy McGrath.