Tuesday, 20 October 2015


That time of the year has come around once again where we launch the much anticipated All Ireland Credit Union Art Competition. The hugely popular competition aims to encourage artist expression and creativity is one of the biggest art competitions for children and adults alike is now for open for entries from budding artists of any age across the island of Ireland. It is so important to nurture our budding artists and celebrate our communities.
This year’s theme ‘Happiness is….’ is open to interpretation by each entrant but aims to celebrate imagination, vibrancy, creativity and explores what happiness means to people across Ireland and their communities. People can find happiness from a huge variety of sources, so it will be very interesting to see how each entrant portrays the theme.
This competition is one of our flagship events and we always look forward to seeing the flair and creativity of the young people of Ireland who enter the competition on an annual basis. The volume and indeed the standard of entries has been incredible over the last 32 years and we are expecting nothing less this time around. It is one of the many initiatives run by the ILCU to highlight that community spirit remains alive and well in parishes, villages and towns around the country. Credit unions have a history of serving communities all over Ireland and this competition is very important to us. It is all about encouraging and rewarding creativity and originality.
For anyone interested in participating in this year’s competition, there are two categories – a General Category and also a Special Category for entrants with a physical or intellectual disability. There are five age categories, ranging from 7 and under to 18 and over. Entries must be submitted via your local credit union.

As ever, local winners at credit union level in each category go forward to Regional Finals. Winning entries from regional level go through to the National Final. Prizes will be awarded at each stage and a National Awards Ceremony will be held in February 2015 in Croke Park and will be hosted by TV personality Marty Whelan. I would like to wish all entrants the very best of luck and I hope to see you at the National awards ceremony in Croke Park in February.

For more information on the Credit Union Art Competition visit the site here

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


In October 2015, the Irish League of Credit Unions gave an overview of figures for credit unions ahead of year-end 2015. As the economic recovery gains ground, credit union financials continue to improve in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, falling arrears, falling loan write offs and the increasing number of credit unions making a surplus reflects a more positive picture for the credit union movement.

Republic of Ireland

Confidence in credit unions has again been demonstrated by the fact that the number of members is up to 2.89 million, an increase of almost 10,000 in the last 12 months.  Furthermore, savings in ILCU credit unions are up 4% for the year to June 2015 to €11.07 billion. Encouragingly gross loan arrears are now at a 6 year low, and now stand at €497 million. Loan arrears are now back at March 2009 levels. Total gross arrears have fallen for 14 consecutive quarters in a row and write offs are also back at 2009 levels.

Assets are up 4% year on year and now stand at €13.23 billion. Savings are also up 4% year on year and increased to €11.07 billion. Of the credit unions in the Republic, 318 credit unions (or 90%) recorded savings growth for the year to date.

There are also good indications that demand for lending is increasing, and the fall in the loan book has slowed considerably. For the year to date, 132 credit unions (or 37%) reported growth in their loan books. This compares to 68 credit unions for the same period in 2014, and 29 credit unions the previous year. For the quarter to June 2015, loans were actually up slightly, increasing by € 2million or 0.06%.

Northern Ireland

With loans increasing by £9million year on year coupled with low arrears and bad debts, the figures highlight the reliance on and demand for credit union loans all over Northern Ireland, which is supported by the commitment of those borrowing members to repay.  Membership of credit unions has also increased by 15,000 in the province year on year, to 457,000 members, a reflection of continued loyalty to the not for profit, community lenders.

In general, lending demand has held up well in Northern Ireland, partly due to a stronger economic climate than in the Republic, and lower rate of unemployment.  Loans in June 2015 were £ 462 million, up £9 million, or 2.1%, year on year.  Overall loans in Northern Ireland credit unions have grown for the last three years. For the year to date in 2015, 64 of 95 credit unions (67% or two thirds) in Northern Ireland grew their loan book which is a positive. 

A further £425 million is available to lend by credit unions across the Province, providing households with vital, accessible, affordable loans.

Savings in June 2015 were £ 1.077 billion, up £60 million, or 6%, year on year.  The average return on savings, known as a dividend, in 2014 was 1.2%, which is down slightly on previous years. However, most credit unions were in a position to pay a dividend in 2014. Some credit unions opted to build up loan provisions and capital reserves rather than pay a dividend. It is clear that lower dividends being paid are not impacting on savings. This is a combination of the fact that Banks are offering historically low returns on savings, and the continued member loyalty to their credit union.
Throughout the recession years, which saw the withdrawal of banking services from many communities, credit unions continued to provide local, accessible financial services to their members. Our vision is to have locally based, accountable credit unions providing a full range of personal financial services to members and all who wish to avail of our services. Credit unions want to evolve and change but are increasingly frustrated at the regulatory roadblocks put in our path.  These roadblocks threaten the ability of credit unions to continue to serve in communities throughout the country in the future.