Video: Newbridge Credit Union action group protests outside Central Bank in Dublin

Paula Campbel

Reporter:

Paula Campbel

“Get out of our credit union” was the message sent to the Central Bank at a protest this morning outside its offices in Dame Street on Friday morning.

Around 150 members of the Newbridge Credit Union Action Group took to the streets to stop their credit union being merged with Naas Credit Union..

The protestors chanted “what do we want? An AGM” and “democracy in, treachery out” as they marched outside the Central Bank headquarters.

Many carried banners with them to get their message across, which bore messages including “Newbridge CU why the secrecy - give members facts and figures”, and “Central Bank? No thanks. No snakes in Newbridge”. Another carried the slogan “This is is Ireland not Zimbabwbe”.

A drummer set the beat for the chants while some protestors wore masks and t-shirts with the logo “Save our credit union”.

The group, which has set up a task force and held two packed out meetings in Ryston Sports and Social Club recently, halted their chants briefly as their chairman Willie Crowley, on a loudspeaker, appealed to Minister Michael Noonan to listen to their cause.

“The credit union is an integral part of every community,” he said. “It is the last refuge for the man on the street - they will not get it.”

The 100 plus protestors filled two buses, which left Newbridge early on Friday morning, to make their way to Dublin to protest against a proposed merger with Naas, which is on the cards for next December.

“We feel we are being robbed of our credit union,” said Action Group member Charles O’Neill. “We want information - we have been kept in the dark too long. The best outcome would be if we are allowed run it ourselves and it is given back to the people.”

The protestors also want answers about the 40 Newbridge Credit Union staff jobs that could be at stake if the merger goes ahead, leaving only a sub-office in Newbridge.

A call for the full facts on the financial situation of the credit union, as well as any plans to sell its landmark building in Newbridge, was made by Deputy Martin Heydon who also attended the protest.

“I am here to stand with the members - how they have been treated by the Central Bank and the Regulator is appalling,” he said. “What we want is the information to make up our own minds. Have an AGM. There is no trust in the Central Bank.”

The Action Group also today held protests outside Ernst & Young’s offices in Dublin, and outside Naas Credit Union.

The Central Bank’s Registrar of Credit Unions, Sharon Donnery, told the Leinster Leader on Monday that there is no viable future for Newbridge Credit Union as a stand-alone entity unless it is merged with Naas at a cost of tens of millions to the tax player.

Finance minister Michael Noonan has set aside €500m to recapitalise struggling Credit Unions that are being merged with more financially stable ones.

“The merger with Naas is the only viable option remaining to secure the long term future of credit union services in Newbridge,” she said.

She added that once the merger has taken place, an AGM can finally be called, and the long-overdue accounts for Newbridge from 2010 onwards will have to be published.

“Ultimately, if the merger goes ahead the accounts will have to be published,” she said. “The underlying issues will appear.”