Irish News

Monday 28 July 2014

Members of credit union vow to stop merger

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Published 31/07/2013|04:00

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THOUSANDS of members of the first credit union in the State to have its running taken over by a special manager have vowed to fight any attempt to force it into a merger.

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The 40,000 members of Newbridge Credit Union in Kildare will not allow it to be pushed into a merger and wound up, members said.

Credit unions are owned by their member shareholders.

The largest community-based credit union in the country, Newbridge, was effectively put into administration in January 2012 when the Central Bank got permission from the courts to have a special manager appointed to run it.

Regulators have claimed the credit union had to be taken over as it was not putting sufficient reserves aside to account for the collapse in value of its new office block.

The directors and the Central Bank regulators have a long history of hostility over regulations. Now it is expected that the credit union will be closed down, with its savings and loans transferred to Naas Credit Union.

And its offices, which cost around €1m to build, are expected to be sold to the Department of Social Protection.

The Central Bank had no comment.

It is understood that Newbridge has been in surplus every year since the recession began.

Willie Crowley of the Newbridge Union Action Group said members would not allow the Central Bank to shut it down.

He accused the Central Bank of an information vacuum. Directors of the credit union, including those who have quit, face the threat of a €100,000 fine or three years in jail if they discuss details about it.

DEBACLE

Mr Crowley, who is organising a meeting of members tonight, accused the Central Bank of attempting to walk away from the debacle by shutting it down.

"We are the members of the credit union and own it. We are not going to accept this merger. We are taking legal advice," he told the Irish Independent.

Luke Charleton of Ernst & Young has been running the credit union for 18 months, but there has been no annual meeting, no accounts published and no dividend paid.

The special manager's appointment is expected to cost €2m when his work is completed, the High Court has been told.

Mr Charleton has had to reduce the fees being charged after being accused by a High Court judge of being someone who is "feasting on the carcasses" of insolvent companies.

Irish Independent

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