Thursday, 20 October 2011

Credit unions across Ireland celebrate International Credit Union Day 2011

Marking the social and economic contributions of credit unions worldwide

On October 20th, credit unions the length and breadth of Ireland mark International Credit Union Day, sharing the occasion with over 188 million members of 53,000 credit unions around the world. This year’s theme - “Credit Unions Build a Better World” celebrates the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities worldwide. It also aligns cooperatively owned and controlled credit unions with the greater cooperative business sector and the United Nations, which will launch the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 later this year.

Since 1948, International Credit Union Day has been celebrated each year on the third Thursday of October to commemorate the credit union’s history and achievements. Ireland’s own Credit Union Movement was started in 1958 by 3 pioneers, Nora Herlihy, Séamus P. Mac Eoin and Sean Forde and has steadily expanded its services to meet the changing needs of members over the past fifty years. The Irish Credit Union Movement is among the most successful in the world with the highest membership per capita.

The Credit Union Movement has a global penetration of 7.5% across 100 countries.

Global Credit Union Statistics FiguresFigures (USD)
Global Savings1.229 trillion (USD)
Global Loans960.1 billion (USD)
Global Reserves131.7 billion (USD)
Global Assets 1.461 trillion (USD)


Irish Credit unions are recognised as a force for positive economic and social change and have provided significant value in both developed and emerging nations. The ILCU International Development Foundation (The Foundation) provides financial and technical assistance to support the development of credit unions in our partner countries: Albania, Russia, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

The work of The Foundation is crucial to the lives of over 500,000 credit union members and their families in these countries. Most people, particularly poor and vulnerable people and those in rural areas, have no access to savings and credit facilities. Credit unions, however, provide opportunities for these people to save money and get loans which help them to help themselves. The support from the Foundation is helping them to improve their quality of life and lift their families out of the poverty trap. This valuable work is only possible thanks to the generous support of Irish credit unions.

At home

At home Irish Credit Unions exist to serve its members, providing not for profit, quality financial services. In the current economic climate, people are looking for more from their financial service providers and the credit union offers something different. The credit union has an ethos of supporting local initiatives, investing in the community by sponsoring/supporting local sports clubs across Ireland. It also continues to support local children by running l art and quiz competitions which have access to national finals. The credit union also engages with the local primary and secondary schools on an ongoing basis. Irish Credit Unions are proud of the role they continue to play in being more than a financial institution but a valuable resource to its community and its people.

Archive Exhibition Launch

To coincide with International Credit Union Day and to mark European Year of the Volunteer 2011, the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has announced the launch of a new Archive Exhibition which opened at the Oisín Gallery, Westland Row in Dublin. The exhibition was officially opened by John Hume Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Joe Duffy, RTE Presenter and looks back at the last 53 years of credit union history in Ireland.

Founding members of the Irish Movement and their families including John Hume, along with ILCU Board members, credit union volunteers and staff and members today joined RTE’s Joe Duffy in a celebration of its history.

Despite the current challenging times, credit unions in Ireland remain a very popular Movement and more importantly they are an essential part of the country’s social fabric. As Ireland battles the storm of economic crisis, credit unions are still a vital part of Irish communities across the country, offering accessible financial services and an open friendly approach to money management.

In Ireland over 3 million members have recognised the value of credit unions. There are currently over 9,500 active volunteers involved in the movement, and over 4,500 people employed.

The rich history of the Movement means that the fascinating credit union story deserves to be told time and time again. This exhibition will allow credit union members and members of the public an opportunity to explore how a small number of foresighted individuals founded one of Ireland’s must successful cooperatives - the Credit Union Movement. The exhibition takes you on a journey from the Movement’s beginning in 1958 to present day 2011.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Statement by Jimmy Johnstone, President of the Irish League of Credit Unions to Interim Commission Report

Statement by Jimmy Johnstone, President of the Irish League of Credit Unions to Interim Commission Report

Commenting on today’s publication of the Interim Report of the Governmental Commission on Credit Unions , Jimmy Johnstone, President of the Irish League of Credit Unions said: “While many of the difficulties we now face were not of our movement’s making, we must now address the shortcomings which are highlighted in this report.”

The Commission notes in its conclusion that: “A strengthened and revitalised sector can be in a position to play an increasing role in the retail financial landscape” and further that “While the challenges faced by the credit union sector are significant, they are not insurmountable.”

“The only way that we will overcome the challenges that we face is by working together. We must all play a part in successfully implementing the Commission’s recommendations. We look forward to the genuine consultation, dialogue and engagement that the credit union movement deserves. It is incumbent on us all to ensure that the necessary reforms and development take place.

I ask that the Boards of Directors of all credit unions study the report in a comprehensive and objective manner and to carefully consider its recommendations in full. The Board of the Irish League of Credit Unions will do likewise and will revert to its member credit unions in due course”.

Mr. Johnstone concluded “Finally I thank the members of the Commission and commend them for completing the first stage of their work within a very short timeframe and also the Minister for Finance for the timely publication of this report.

The Commission has remained true to its terms of reference and I sincerely hope that this interim report will significantly contribute to the necessary reform and development of the Irish credit union movement. The work of the Commission is not complete and during its second stage of work, it will proceed to turn its attention to crafting a strategy for the future development of the movement.

The publication of this interim report marks a good beginning to that process agus mar a deirtear, “tús maith leath na hoibre”.

Ní neart go cur le chéile.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

ILCU Launch 2012 All Ireland Schools Quiz

It is this time of year again when the days get shorter and Winter draws in. For us in the Credit Union Movement it can only mean one thing and that is the launch of the annual All Ireland Schools Quiz.

The Quiz, which has become one of the most popular and successful promotions undertaken by the Credit Union Movement over the past years, will be run throughout the winter months in communities all over Ireland.

The annual event, now in its 21st year, has become the highlight of the school calendar, attracting over 25,000 participants in over 300 venues throughout the 32 counties. Volunteers from the 500 ILCU affiliated credit unions come together each year to make the school quiz happen.

This year TV personality Marty Whelan will be joining us as Quiz Master at the national finals in the RDS in April next year and he will also launch the event.

The Quiz is all about encouraging learning and teamwork among young school children under the age of 13. We wholeheartedly support the development of young people in communities all over Ireland and are delighted to launch the 2011 event, which is set to be our biggest yet. Questions for the quiz are compiled by primary school teachers and will cover topics such as geography, history, music, literature and sport.

The quiz consists of two knock out stages at local and regional level and culminates in a National Final Day in Dublin in early April 2012, where 100 qualifying teams compete. The quiz is split into two separate competitions – Competition A for the under 11 category and Competition B for the under 13 category.

I want to say a big thank you to our volunteers from credit unions nationwide who work incredibly hard to make sure this event is a success year on year. This event shows very clearly how credit unions are a part of their local community and highlights in a very positive way local identity and involvement. It is also a way for children around Ireland to have lots of fun while learning the importance of team work in achieving success and the chance to participate in an all Ireland final.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of the schools and credit unions around Ireland that are involved in the 2012 event the very best of luck. Make sure you check our website and Facebook page for regular updates on the 2012 Schools Quiz.