Monday 16 October 2017

Islanders all at sea as credit union shuts its office

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A DECISION by a credit union to close a sub office on one of the country's most westerly inhabited islands has been criticised as another blow to the area.

Next month Cahersiveen Credit Union is to close the Valentia Island office it moved into only four years ago, bringing to an end its 24-year history on the island.

A spokesperson said the decision to shut its Valentia office had been made reluctantly but it had to cut back on expansions made "during the Celtic Tiger era".

A statement said: "In common with many credit unions that expanded during the Celtic Tiger era, Cahersiveen Credit Union extended its services by opening a sub-office in Valentia."

However, local man and credit union member Brendan Murphy, said there is a lot of anger locally as there was no public consultation before the decision to close the office was reached.

"There was just a notice put on the window saying that the office would be closed from October," Mr Murphy said.

"It's not acceptable and it's just typical of what's happening in rural Ireland."

DISAPPOINTED

Valentia Island has a population of about 700 people although this increases considerably during the summer.

The island is accessible by bridge from Portmagee in south Kerry or by ferry from just outside Cahersiveen.

When the credit union first opened on Valentia Island in 1989 there were still two post offices on the island and a branch of Allied Irish Banks. All are now closed.

In January, the island also lost its garda station, one of nine closed in Co Kerry and 95 nationwide.

"This was the last thing we were left with and it's a fourth kick in the teeth for a small rural community," Mr Murphy added.

But the board of Cahersiveen Credit Union said it believed its main office, given its close proximity to Valentia, which is 10km away, would continue to provide an excellent service.

"The board accepts and understands that members who live in Valentia will be disappointed with the decision but hopes they will now use the services provided in the main office in Cahersiveen," the statement added.

The island's main employer is its Coast Guard station but it was given a boost this summer with news that US computer firm MYMIC Global was to open an office there with the creation of 22 jobs.

Irish Independent

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