A CREDIT union whose members are made up of gardai and their families has returned a multi-million euro profit.
St Raphael's Garda Credit Union, which claims to be the largest in the country, said that it will pay a dividend this year, and has seen its membership grow.
It refuted any suggestions it is in trouble and has had to reschedule a large number of member loans.
Almost 50 years old, it has 32,000 members.
It said it has assets of €324m, which makes it the largest credit union in the State.
Chief executive Claire Byrne said in the year to September, St Raphael's recorded a surplus, or profit, of €7.3m. The reserves rose by 7pc to €51.6m.
"Our surplus is a great achievement in difficult economic conditions. We have reported surpluses every year throughout the economic downturn and continue to have a very strong balance sheet.
"This strong performance is the result of serving our members' needs to the best of our ability, prudent lending and rigorous cost management." Loans to members stood at €102m at the end of September, while member deposits and member shares totalled €258m.
The credit union put aside a net €1.4m for bad and doubtful debts during the year.
It also recovered €500,000 during the year from previous bad debt provisions -- money recovered from loans that had previously been written off in the financial statements.
The credit union will pay a dividend of 1.5pc to members on their shares.
"Like every other lender, we have some borrowers who are having difficulty in repaying their loans -- but the numbers are relatively small and we will continue to manage them appropriately," Ms Byrne said.
She refuted suggestions that seven out of 10 loans have had to be rescheduled.
"In fact, less than 10pc of loans have been rescheduled."
The credit union recently criticised efforts by banks to get people who are under financial pressure to stop paying back credit union loans so they put all their spare cash into repaying a mortgage.