Central Bank refuses to confirm or deny Credit Union merger speculation

Newbridge Credit Union building
The Central Bank has refused to comment on speculation that Newbridge Credit Union is to merge with it’s Naas counterpart adding that ‘it is business as usual’ in Newbridge.

The Central Bank has refused to comment on speculation that Newbridge Credit Union is to merge with it’s Naas counterpart adding that ‘it is business as usual’ in Newbridge.

The Central Bank refused to comment any further on the matter to the Leinster Leader on Monday, July 29, saying only that the rumours of any merger between the flagging Newbridge branch with Naas was ‘mere speculation’.

However concern for the future of Newbridge Credit Union is rife among members, who have been denied an AGM for the past two years, since the appointment by the Central Bank of special manager Luke Charleton and his team to oversee the running of the struggling institution.

Fees for Mr Charleton and his staff. which have so far run to €2 million, attracted criticism from a High Court judge Brian McGovern during a court hearing challenging the fees by the Board of Directors last March. .

As a result the special manager agreed cut €55,000 off the latest fees sought for the six-month period up to last January.

Meanwhile no dividends paid have been paid for the past two years

Some of the CU’s members have protested in the past at the lack of information on the credit union from either the Central Bank or the Special Manager.

Local campaigner Willie Crowley, who has gathered 500 signatures for a petition to demand an extraordinary general meeting of members of Newbridge Credit Union, believes more transparency is required.

“I am going to call a general meeting in the next week of concerned members,” he said.

“It will be open to all people concerned with safeguarding a credit union in our town.”

Newbridge credit union will cease to operate independently if the merger with Naas goes ahead.

Naas has 18,000 members and is described being in a strong position while Newbridge Credit Union is the largest institution of it’s kind in Ireland, with 37,000 members.

A new overseeing body, the Credit Union Restructuring Board, has powers to decide on restructuring plans put forward by any credit union.

Meanwhile, Naas CU General Manager Sean Murray, who spoke to the Leader on the matter last June, said that the board had decided as a “general policy” not to comment on whether a merger is likely with any other credit union. “This is a strong credit union with a bright future, ” he said.

Naas CU has some €30m available to lend and directors reported a surplus of almost €1.8 at the end of 2012 - up substantially on 2011.

A clear picture of the state of Newbridge CU’s finances is not available.

- Paula Campbell