Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that the proposal to merge Clonmel and Charleville Credit Unions has created serious concern around the future operational model of the Clonmel branch:
“I questioned the Taoiseach about this matter during the Dáil Order of Business yesterday, where I challenged him to explicitly to commit to introducing, if required, further amending legislation that would protect Credit Unions from any attempt to unilaterally push through a merger or acquisition.
I have been raising this matter and issues related to it with the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan since 2015.
I have also asked him on numerous occasions to directly intervene with the Central Bank when it was preparing to impose what the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) called the arbitrary imposition of savings and lending limits.
Credit Unions have been facing what amounts to a less than subtle tactical assault on their reputational standing within the community over the last number of years.
The latest rumours about the necessity for mergers is a part of that process I believe.
Indeed there is significant concern, both locally and nationally, over what exactly was driving these revised lending and loan limits and what is now driving attempts to push through various types of merger models.
By forcing the Credit Unions to introduce a savings cap of €100,000 the Government effectively sought to reroute business to the Banks by wilfully creating concerns about the security of savings in local Credit Unions.
At the moment this cap and the various other restrictions like the 25 year limit on a loan repayment term look suspiciously like a major policy bias in favour of the Banks.
Clonmel Credit Union, which now incorporates both Fethard and Mullinahone Credit Union, were all going to be directly affected by these new regulations as they deliberately deprive them of the capacity to effectively compete with other lending institutions.
Essentially what these new proposals by the Central Bank, which have the backing of the Minister for Finance are saying to Credit Unions is, ‘know your place.’
This is despite the fact that Credit Unions like Clonmel’s which gives out an average of €17 million in loans per annum have proved time and again to be prudent, community led and responsible lenders.
Forcing through a merger with Charleville, which I understand is heavily indebted, is not the way to go and must be challenged by all concerned members,” concluded Deputy McGrath.