Tuesday 23 December 2014

Town aims to replace shut-down credit union

Published 26/07/2014 | 02:30

The offices of Berehaven Credit Union, Main Street, Castletownbere, West Cork. Berehaven Credit Union was wound up by order of the High Court. Photo: Niall Duffy
The offices of Berehaven Credit Union, Main Street, Castletownbere, West Cork. Berehaven Credit Union was wound up by order of the High Court. Photo: Niall Duffy

PLANS are under way to set up a new credit union in west Cork to replace Berehaven Credit Union which was wound by High Court order.

Berehaven members will stage a public protest in Castletownbere today to highlight anger at the way staff and 3,500 members were treated.

Six staff lost their jobs though the 3,500 members have had their savings guaranteed.

However, the Irish Independent has learned that preliminary talks are under way to ensure that the credit union ethos is maintained in the area.

Politicians, business leaders and credit union activists are planning to stage consultation meetings early next month to outline a programme of action.

Noel Harrington TD (FG), a Castletownbere resident, said he felt it was vital that a credit union be available in the area.

"A credit union is a crucial asset for every community and we will see what can be done to ensure that Castletownbere has a credit union going forward," he said.

The initial meetings are aimed at clarifying whether locals favour the creation of a new credit union with no links to the former Berehaven operation or whether the nearest credit union, Bantry, might consider extending its coverage to Castletownbere with a dedicated office.

Difficulties

Berehaven was wound up by the High Court after repeated efforts to persuade another credit union to take it over failed.

The High Court made the order last Wednesday on foot of an application from the Central Bank after Berehaven had been battling to overcome difficulties for four years.

Despite the fact the credit union had a €50,000 deficit in its accounts, all member savings – including accounts held by clubs and charities – are protected.

Member savings are protected both by the Government's €100,000 deposit guarantee scheme and the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) members bond.

Long-time member Georgina Goulding is furious over the manner of the wind-up and organised today's lunchtime protest outside the Berehaven offices.

"We knew absolutely nothing about this – we had no idea what was going to happen on Wednesday," she said.

One member, Rosarie O'Neill, said her concern was for the staff rather than her savings.

"I have been a member of the credit union for 35 years and it is a really sad day for everyone," she said.

Irish Independent

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