IT was the end of an era on Monday for some of Clare’s best known credit unions as St Francis Credit Union in Ennis, Ss Peter & Paul Credit Union, Clarecastle, and Fergus Credit Union, Lissycasey, amalgamated into one credit union with total savings of more than €150 million.
And that may not be the end of amalgamation in Clare and the wider region as Caherdavin Credit Union takes in the Shannon Development Credit Union, and Southill and St John’s credit unions in Limerick.
The moves follow the introduction of new regulations by the Central Bank, now responsible for the country’s 460 credit unions.
“In the future smaller credit unions aren’t going to survive because there’s so much regulation coming in and the smaller credit unions won’t be able to afford the cost of regulation,” said outgoing St Peter & Paul’s Credit Union director, Dermot Moloney, who has served his local credit union for the past 38 years.
Indeed, the outgoing Clarecastle board have a total of 400 years service between them, including 48 years service by co-founder and president Haulie Kelleher, who along with Fr Moriarty set up the credit union and also helped to start St Francis and Kilrush credit unions in the 1960s.
The Central Banks’ ideal of credit unions with savings of at least €100 million was one of the reasons that prompted the amalgamation of the three Clare credit unions.
“St Francis in Ennis has reached that on their own, we have €17.5 million and Lissycasey have between €32 and €34 million giving a total of about €154 million,” Dermot said.
Another reason for the formal union was the need to roll out new services for members such as an ATM service and bank card to attract younger members.
“While all three of our credit unions are highly profitable at the moment, our membership is getting older we would have lost the young people because we don’t have an ATM service, which they need. In a couple of year’s time our membership will be shrinking.
“We are all going to introduce an ATM service and card for all our members. That’s the plan,” Dermot explained.