Monday 20 October 2014

Branch steps in to replace credit union after wind-up

Ralph Riegel and Sarah Stack

Published 02/08/2014 | 02:30

Credit Union
Credit Union

A FISHING town that lost its credit union after a High Court winding-up order nine days ago has secured a replacement.

Berehaven Credit Union closed its doors on July 23 in Castletownbere, Co Cork, after the court granted a petition sought by the Central Bank.

However, Bantry Credit Union – the nearest one to Castletownbere – has decided to establish a sub-office in the west Cork fishing town.

The branch opened its doors yesterday following a board decision of Bantry Credit Union on Thursday evening.

The sub-office will now operate from the same premises as the former Berehaven Credit Union.

The Berehaven closure infuriated locals despite the fact that the savings of all 3,500 members, including those of local clubs and charities, were fully guaranteed.

The Central Bank confirmed that it had paid out €10m to 3,100 depositors, representing 85pc of the total.

It was the first enforced closure of a rural Irish credit union.

Six Berehaven staff lost their jobs. They are now hopeful they can secure re-employment with the new Bantry-run operation.

Cork TD and Castletownbere resident, Noel Harrington (FG), welcomed the decision: "This represents the first stage in reinstating a fully functioning credit union presence in Castletownbere."

Meanwhile, the Central Bank is imposing tougher rules on credit union staff who sell insurance and other products to members. The regulator said it would decide which staff in 218 credit unions around the country could handle financial services rather than just dealing with savings and loans.

The regulations are expected to come into force in a year's time.

The measure is part of a revised regime that will supplement a rule in place since August 2013, which meant the Central Bank had to approve the manager and chairperson in any credit union with assets greater than €10m.

Irish Independent

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