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Exciting Times Ahead for Ireland’s Credit Unions

The passing of the Credit Union (Amendment) Bill 2022 at Report and Final Stages in the Dáil, has been welcomed by Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD as a step forward for Ireland’s credit unions. The Bill will now be referred to the Seanad and finally to the President of Ireland for approval.

Minister Carroll MacNeill stated, “this is the first meaningful reform for the credit union sector in ten years. I am so happy to support Credit Unions who are ambitious to expand the range of financial services for their Members through the passage of this enabling piece of legislation. I am especially looking forward to Credit Unions soon being able to provide mortgages at more competitive and sustainable rates than has been the case. I want to thank my colleagues in Dáil Éireann, the OPC, the Central Bank, ILCU, CUDA and all credit unions for their constructive approach to this legislation.”

The key amendments that Minister Carroll MacNeill brought before the Dáil provide credit unions with greater flexibility to:

  • Devise loan approval and subsequent appeal processes to meet their members’ needs.
  • Create membership approval processes to improve efficiency and meet members’ needs.

The amendments being brought deal specifically with issues which arose from Committee Stage of the legislative process and follows extensive engagement at each stage of the drafting process.

The Bill will provide legislate framework that will benefit the sector in many practical ways including:

  • A number of options for Credit Unions to collaborate, share resources and generate economies of scale. It is expected that this will enable Credit Unions compete more effectively in the mortgage and SME lending market. Credit Unions are free to choose the option most suited to their member’s needs, including:

o Referral of members to another Credit Union with a wider product offering;

o Option of loan participation and syndication;

o Corporate credit unions can now be formed. These are Credit Unions whose members are other credit unions.

  • Increased flexibility around the common bond, opening up opportunities to expand membership and services. The common bond defines the area in which a Credit Union can operate this is typically a geographic area or common occupation.
  • Empowerment of Credit Union boards to better manage their own Governance and allow each board to focus and concentrate on strategy and development.
  • Inclusion of community benefits such as coercive control and the Domestic Violence Act. Safeguards have been included in both the Nomination process and public access to the members list.

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