There was a hint of the Hollywood Christmas film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at last night’s credit union action group rally to start a brand new credit union for Newbridge. One man even stood up to ask if should take all his ‘savings out of the old credit union to help start the new one?’
The embers of the old credit union in Newbridge, still glowing, were brushed aside, and dusted off with talk of changing ‘channels from the history channel to the discovery channel’.
In attendance on behalf of the action group was Morgan McCabe, Yvonne Boland, Marian Harkin, MEP. Willie Crowley, Pat Tinsley and Declan Browne who started the meeting, which was held in Ryston Sports and Social Club, with the Credit Union prayer.
“We are all great supporters of the ethos of the credit union,” said Chairman Willie Crowley.
The meeting heard that the action group, formed last July to save Newbridge credit union from a proposed merger with Naas, is now at a new stage on ‘its long journey’.
“We have been told by the Tanaiste and the Minister for Finance that there is a consensus that we should have credit union facilities in Newbridge,” he added.
“Not a sub office or an ATM - we want our own credit union. We want to send the message that there is an appetite for a new credit union in the town and we want the building returned to its members.”
The meeting was told that the former directors of the now defunct Newbridge Credit Union are appealing the High Court transfer order of assets and liabilities to Permanent TSB last Sunday.
There was talk of the phoenix rising from the ashes, and how much the town needs a credit union, while one man from the floor said ‘Newbridge Credit Union died last Sunday’ and suggested that a fresh start was required to ‘get rid of all who participated in the last credit union’. This point was ‘taken on board’ by the action group.
“I take your point about a brand new team,” said Willie Crowley in response. “But whoever constitutes this new board we must note that the legislation is strict, the criteria is severe and it will require a huge commitment from those who take part.”
Marian Harkin MEP offered her help and support adding that ‘Newbridge needs it’s credit union - I hope tonight will be the start.’
Then there was a show of hands for option A - to merge with another credit union or option B - the preferred option - to start a new credit union called Droichead Nua for the common bond of Newbridge.
The Mayor of Newbridge Mick Deely, said he was confused with the mixed messages from the Central Bank in line with the government on the one hand to transfer NCU to Permanent TSB and now the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmores sudden commitment to a new credit union movement in Newbridge.
He asked will there be government funding involved adding that he was a simple man who felt he was left in the dark on this issue.
The meeting heard that Newbridge ‘had enough banks’ and there was a thank you from the community games for all the action group had achieved to date. Meanwhile everyone in attendance received an expression of interest form and were urged to fill them out and sign up.
“It has been 26 years since the Central Bank issued a licence to a credit union,” said Willie Crowely.
“Let’s hope this time next year we will be announcing our first dividend that we haven’t had for years.”
Meanwhile government press secretary Derek McDowell told the Leinster Leader that the Tanaiste and the Minister Noonan would both ‘be pleased to sit down with any group of people in Newbridge interested in setting up a credit union’.
“That said the procedures are set out in legislation and Central Bank approval would be required, while any group setting up a credit union must rely on its own resources - governement can only provide guidance and not funding,” he added.