Saturday 18 November 2017

League of Credit Unions spends €24,000 on Gdansk jolly

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

Hundreds of credit unions have had to cut back on lending over the last year -- but that hasn't prompted the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) to rein in its spending on the annual world credit union conference, which begins this weekend.

The ILCU, a lobby group for credit unions, is spending €24,000 sending 11 of its top people to Gdansk in Poland for the World Credit Union Conference. This is the same amount it spent on the conference last year, when it was held in Glasgow, Scotland.

The credit union beano has been held in Las Vegas and Barcelona in recent years.

This year's conference, which runs until Thursday, includes an optional tour to St Petersburg in Russia, with visits to the Cathedral of Peter and Paul which contains the tombs of most of the Romanov tsars. There was also an option to play a round of golf in Poland's Sierra Golf Club in Petkowice yesterday.

The world conference includes credit card company Mastercard among its sponsors. Given the rising rate of credit card debt in Ireland, and among the credit unions' hard-pressed members, the giant credit card firm is an odd choice of sponsor.

Gdansk may hold grim -- if blurred -- memories for many of Ireland's football fans who journeyed to Euro 2012. However the intrepid travellers on behalf of the league of credit unions may get to sample more exotic fares next year, as the World Conference of Credit Unions is to be held in Ottowa in Canada in 2013.

A spokeswoman for the Irish League of Credit Unions said that the conference costs covered by the League included Ryanair flights and "modest hotel accommodation".

She described the amount spent on this year's conference as "modest if compared to how much other financial institutions spend on attending conferences".

"It is important that we continue to keep in touch with the progress and difficulties faced by credit union movements internationally, so that we might learn from the opportunities and the potential difficulties which lie ahead," said the spokeswoman.

Tomorrow, ILCU boss Kieron Brennan will act as moderator in a discussion about the benefits of merging credit unions. Brian McCrory, the World Credit Union director for Ireland, is moderating a discussion about "Gaining influence -- lessons in credit union lobbying".

Last April, the Government-appointed credit union commission urged more credit unions to merge to ensure the more financially weak survive the downturn.

Credit unions have been hit hard by the recession, with loan arrears among members hitting €1bn.

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