Newbridge Credit Union Action Group vow to fight

Newbridge Credit Union Action Group held a crisis meeting in Ryston Sports and Social Club on Monday afternoon in the wake of the NCU take over by Permanent TSB.

Newbridge Credit Union Action Group held a crisis meeting in Ryston Sports and Social Club on Monday afternoon in the wake of the NCU take over by Permanent TSB.

The 50 or so members in attendance heard that ‘sadly Newbridge Credit Union no longer exists’ after 43 years of serving the community.

“The Central Bank’s plan is to introduce a banking culture into our credit unions,” said Chairman Willie Crowley. “This is not a done deal. If there is culpability on behalf of Newbridge Credit Union there is also culpability on behalf of the Central Bank.”

The tone of the meetiing ranged from one of heated discussions, to opposing viewpoints, shouts from the floor, political party bashings, namely Fine Gael, and ending in a recital of the credit union prayer.

It was acknowleged that a large loan of €3.2 million was given out by NCU however members heard that ‘the Central Bank knew all about it’. Members were told that NCU is a ‘big credit union’ and that the person who was granted the loan is ‘still a member’ who plans to pay it back.

“We will fight this to the very end,” said Willie Crowley.

NCU member Ian Hennessy from the floor alleged that in 2009 loans to directors at NCU amounted to €976,000, which he said averaged out at €73,000, adding that ‘was not right’.

“The reality here is that it is going to cost €2,500 for every member to make up that €53 million [takeover cost].”

Mr Hennessy however was shouted down from the floor and several people asked if ‘he was from Newbridge?’ while the Chairman Willie Crowley asked ‘if he was a member of Fine Gael?’.

One lady from the floor described the take over as ‘political theft’ and received a round of applause for doing so.

Mr Crowley also claimed that the NCU Action Group’s alternative proposal was ‘still on the table’.

This proposal was given to the Central Bank on November 1 last, in a bid to halt the proposed merger with Naas and keep the credit union in Newbridge at a cost of €40 million which would be repaid in time back to the government.

The Central Bank, who rejected the plan on the basis that it had concerns on the potential impact of the proposal on members’ savings, including any request to members to convert their savings to support a new structure, which was described as having a ‘high degree of risk’. It disclosed the full details of the plan in their Resolution Report online on Monday. Meanwhile details of various lending practices and developments since the appointment of the special manger in NCU has been published by the Central Bank in an online resolution report.

“The biggest loan granted by NCU was €3.2 million,” said the Registrar, who added that there were ‘hundreds’ of loans of this level granted by NCU.

The report indicates that [as reported by NCU at 31 December 2009], the credit union granted a loan of €3.2 million, which exceeded 1.5 percent of the total assets at the date of loan, and was in breach of regulations at the time. The report also states that a balance of €2.8 million was still outstanding on the loan on September, 30, 2013.

A statement from PTSB said it is business as usual at Newbridge Credit Union and that former NCU members, now PTSB customers, will receive a letter from the retail bank.Meanwhile NCU staff have now become staff of the PTSB group.

All Newbridge Credit Union members accounts will now become deposit accounts with Permanent TSB and members will maintain all their savings however bank charges may now apply on all acounts.

Director of PTSB Niall O’Grady said ‘it is not the banks intention to merge NCU with PTSB’.