Thursday 30 October 2014

The Punt: League leader Kieron Brennan makes switch

Published 21/06/2014 | 02:30

Kieron Brennan, CEO, Irish League of Credit Unions. (Picture credit Martin Nolan)
Kieron Brennan, CEO, Irish League of Credit Unions. (Picture credit Martin Nolan)

THE head of the Irish League of Credit Unions is stepping down in what looks to the Punt like a major blow for the sector.

Kieron Brennan is leaving to take over as boss at the National Association of Building Co-operatives, a charity that promotes the provision of social housing.

He has held the chief executive job for six years.

The league is a representative body for the majority of credit unions on both sides of the border, and also runs a multi-million bailout fund for credit unions that run short of funds.

Co-ordinating the volunteer-led members has been compared to herding cats at the best of times. And the movement is going through huge upheaval at the moment. Last week, one credit union was revealed to be embroiled in a fraud controversy. Meanwhile, a state body is encouraging mass mergers in a bid to create scale in the sector. Mr Brennan has played a key role in defending the movement and was instrumental in ensuring all mergers are voluntary. He said he regrets leaving but wants a new challenge.

Darby O'Gill in Luxembourg

Politicians do some odd things at times. Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem had his moment on Thursday, when, at a late press conference in Luxembourg following the end of the eurogroup meeting, he decided to attempt an Irish accent.

And it was a very bad one. A very, very bad one. Much worse than Darby O'Gill even.

Mr Dijsselbloem – one of Europe's most powerful finance ministers and one-time graduate student at University College Cork – was praising the "impeccable track record" of Ireland under the bailout programme and how it has been maintained now that we're out of the programme.

And then he said he had actually promised Finance Minister Michael Noonan that he would say all that in Irish. (It was an attempt at an accent rather than the language).

What came out was a mix of Scottish and Northern Irish accents, and was very, very surreal.

His attempt got a round of applause and a few laughs. It was all a little strange. The Punt is prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. It was almost 9pm and it had been a long day.

With the Netherlands topping their World Cup group, his spirits were evidently high.

Olli bows out with a swipe

In keeping with the European theme, European economics commissioner Olli Rehn enjoyed his final meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg this week. And it was a bit of a love-in.

First, the aforeme-ntioned Mr Dijsselbloem heaped praise on the Finnish politician, who is set to return as an MEP. Mr Rehn has been a "guiding force", he said.

In return, Mr Rehn even extended his thanks to his "friends in the media" and, in that dry manner for which he is well known, gave a swipe.

"How can I put it? Thank you for your unwave-ring support and complete understanding over these past four-and-a-half years. We have certainly had a few late nights together, so I suppose the best conclusion for me is to say simply, good night and good luck."

In Ireland, he was accused of being unhelpful when he sought to rule out a deal to ease the costs of the old Anglo Irish Bank promissory notes. On a trip to Dublin in 2012, Mr Rehn quoted the Latin phrase pacta sunt servanda, a high-brow command that Ireland stick with its commitment to repay the debt over a ruinously short time frame. Common sense prevailed and a deal was struck a year later.

Omnia mutantur nos et mutamur in illis, as Mr Rehn never said. Which roughly translates as 'everything changes, and we change with it'.

Irish Independent

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