The Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Councillor Seamus Kilgannon hosted a reception at County Hall to honour the Credit Union Board, staff and volunteers. Among those attending were Charles Murphy, President of the Irish League of Credit Unions, Brian McCrory, Chairman of World Council of Credit Unions, MEP Marian Harkin, Sligo County Council Chief Executive Ciarán Hayes, and Councillors Margaret Gormley, Hubert Keaney and Chris MacManus
Civic Reception for Irish League of Credit Unions
"There is scarcely a household in the country that has not been supported by their local credit union, they have been a discreet and professional presence in people’s lives. The loyalty and commitment of our members is one of our strengths, It infuses all that we do and provides focus and direction as we plan for the future. While our remit is broad and varied, the Credit Union is really about building communities"
I believe its structure is critical to its enduring success – volunteers from various backgrounds, whether farming, educational, business, civic or other, bring their differing perspectives and life-experiences to bear in framing and delivering the policies that guide the Credit Union movement for the benefit of its members. From my own experience, I see a certain symmetry between my role as a Councillor and a Credit Union Board member; Both are focused on engaging with people at important junctures in their lives, and in a wider context to empower and enhance communities.
Role of volunteers
I also think it appropriate in this year when Sligo celebrates is status as ‘European Capital of Volunteering’ to reflect on the role of the volunteer throughout the history of the Credit Union movement. Anyone looking for a template or model of voluntary endeavour should look no further than the Credit Union to consider the true value of our community volunteers, who are the back-bone of our organisation.
Of course there are challenges ahead; The implications of Brexit may not be quantified for some time, the uncertain nature of the long-term economic landscape – for our part, we have to ensure that our traditional business model is sustainable into the future. In a national context, the Credit Union has so much to offer. The skill base and professional development of Credit Union staff and directors has undergone a sea-change in recent years, and this will continue into the future.
Value to society
The Credit Union movement is very well capitalised, and we have the capacity and experience to introduce an element of choice to a very concentrated financial services sector. These issues are for another day, another forum. This evening is a celebration of the Credit Union movement, a reflection on their value to our society, a public and heart-felt tribute to our its staff and volunteers. I also have to make the point that while in the region of 2,000 children are sleeping in hotels in Dublin, with no homes to go to, with around 1,000 people on Sligo County Council’s housing waiting list, the Credit Union has between €4 and €5 billion in savings. Can you imagine the impact we could make in terms of hospitals, schools, amenities and infrastructure if these savings could be released, but we are not being listened to.’
The Cathaoileach finished his address by paying tribute to ‘A passionate advocate for our volunteers and a great friend of the Credit Union movement, MEP Marian Harkin. She has arranged for our local volunteers to be honoured in Brussels, a memory that they will cherish for the rest of their lives, and she is a passionate advocate for the Credit Union in Europe, a valued resource which is greatly appreciated.’
Sligo County Council