Friday 26 August 2016

Credit unions complain Noonan has only named outsiders to new agency

Published 11/11/2014 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Credit unions have complained that a body set up to advice the Minister for Finance does not contain anyone from the sector.

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Instead, it contains an accountant whose practice makes money out of credit unions, an academic and a teacher-trade union official.

Credit unions have also complained that the Credit Union Advisory Committee has been limited to just three people.

This body advises Finance Minister Michael Noonan on how credit unions are managed and how best to protect the interests of the three million members of the lenders.

Mr Noonan announced recently that he had appointed a partner in Grant Thornton, Denise O'Connell, to the advisory committee.

Donal McKillop of Queens University, Belfast, was also appointed. Professor McKillop chaired a commission into credit unions for the Government.

A former senator and one-time general secretary of the INTO teachers' union, Joe O'Toole, is the third person on the advisory committee. He is a former president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Mr O'Toole was on the McKillop Credit Union Commission and has had a long-standing involvement with the movement.

But a body that represents those who monitor the activities of credit union boards has taken issue with the composition of the advisory committee.

The National Supervisors Forum for Credit Unions has written to Michael Noonan saying that previous members of the advisory committee had direct involvement in the credit union movement.

Chairman of the National Supervisors Forum Joe Mulvey said: "The Minister has appointed a committee of just three people and has neglected to appoint anyone from any of the various representative bodies."

He said his forum, which held its annual meeting in Galway at the weekend, was the second largest body for credit unions in the State.

He said that in announcing the new committee of three Mr Noonan has effectively removed any representative of the credit union movement from what is a statutory committee set up to advise him.

"The previous committee, which had among its number people with experience in the credit union sector, both as volunteers and professional employees, has been discarded.

"It is rather strange, or is it, that the new committee of three, contains among its small number an academic who has studied and written about credit unions and a person who earns her daily bread from contracting to credit unions."

A letter sent on behalf of Minister Noonan to Mr Mulvey defends the appointments to the advisory committee.

"The Minister has asked me to say that he is satisfied that each appointed member to the CUAC (Credit Union Advisory Committee) has vast experience and knowledge of credit union matters and will make a valuable contribution towards dealing with the challenges facing the sector at this important time for the Irish credit union movement," the letter from the minister's secretary states.

The letter points out that every member of the advisory committee is chosen by the Minister for Finance, who appointed them for three years.

Irish Independent

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