Thursday, 19 April 2012

Commission on Credit Unions

Today has been an important and significant day for credit unions in Ireland as we welcomed the publication of the Final Report of the Commission on Credit Unions.
The purpose of the report was two-fold; to inform the preparation of credit union legislation to be published by end June 2012 and make recommendations regarding the strengthening of the regulatory framework for credit unions including more effective governance and regulatory requirements.
The Irish League of Credit Unions recognizes the critically important role that balanced regulation will play in the sustainability of Irish credit unions into the future. We are operating in a very different and difficult financial landscape where we have to adapt to protect our credit unions and our members. Ultimately, a strengthened sector will result in stronger credit unions who are in a position to meet the changing needs of their members with a wider range of services.
The Commission Report makes various recommendations which will contribute to the reform and development of the Irish credit union movement which has successfully served its members in Ireland over that 50 plus years.  
The Commission believes that a certain amount of restructuring of the credit union sector is required and recommends that this should be achieved on a voluntary, incentivised and time-bound basis.    The Commission also recommends that a new body be established on a short-term basis – called the Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo) to engage with credit unions on the ground and facilitate the restructuring process
In terms of the regulatory framework, the Commission’s key recommendation is a one-size – fits all approach to credit union regulation is not appropriate and that some regulatory requirements may not be needed for smaller credit unions which want to operate a simpler business model. The Commission considers that such credit unions should be permitted to operate a limited business model under a simpler regulatory regime. 

The Report also makes various recommendations in the area of credit union governance. This is in line with the Government’s commitment to the Troika to provide for same. Areas of particular importance include the composition and role of the Board of Directors as well as fitness and probity considerations.  The Commission recommends that these changes be phased in over time and be calibrated according to the size and complexity of the credit unions to which they apply.  Furthermore the Commission recommends that consultation take place with the representative bodies and credit unions when these changes are being implemented.
The only way that we will overcome the challenges that we face is by working together. This Final Report will require very careful analysis and consideration by credit union boards, supervisors, volunteers and staff. I would encourage everyone to take the time to study the report fully and to allocate appropriate board and staff time to discuss and consider the whole range of recommendations contained therein. The League Office has already issued a comprehensive summary document and while we look forward to an open and lively discussion at our AGM in Killarney in just over a week’s time, the League will also organise road-shows to facilitate further discussion and feedback after AGM.  Careful consideration of the issues set forth is what our movement and our members deserve. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

2012 All Ireland Credit Union Schools Quiz

What a day was had on April 1st at the final of the All Ireland Credit Union Schools Quiz. You could feel the excitement building all morning as the 400 children (or 100 teams of 4 children) from right across the island of Ireland descended on the RDS with a record number of supporters in toe.

Quiz Master extraordinaire for the day was the unflappable Marty Whelan who led the teams in the serious business of the quiz itself.

Round after round came and went with the contestants keeping a very close eye on the big score boards mounted over the stage. At approximately 4pm it was revealed that a tie break had taken place in both Competition A and Competition B and 4 teams would battle it out in a tie break round. Dramatically all remained even after the tie break round and it was decided that the teams would be awarded joint first place in each category as a reward for their hard work.

Competition A (up to 11 years of age)

• Scoil Chaoimhin Naofa, Glendalough, Wicklow
• St Helens Primary School, Portmarnock, Dublin

Competition B (11- 13 years of age)

• Ardfert Central National School, Tralee, Kerry
• St Patricks National School, Crossabeg, Enniscorthy

Over the past 6 months, children from North and South took part in knock out stages at local and regional level in an effort to win a chance at competing at the national finals. That 25,000 was eventually whittled down to the 400 who competed today. 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.

With the aim of encouraging teamwork among young school children under the age of 13, the questions for the Quiz are compiled by primary school teachers and covered topics such as geography, history, music, literature and sport.

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. The purpose of the credit union movement is more than merely providing financial services and this is and will continue to be a very important event for us and a way for children around Ireland to have lots of fun while learning the importance of team work in achieving success.