– Stronger role must be found for Credit Union movement –

Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher has said that a forum of all stakeholders in the Irish banking sector should be convened urgently to discuss the issues affecting the sector and propose recommendations to government.

Kelleher, a member of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON), made the call following a series of hammer blows to financial services in the country over the past month.

“With the decision of Ulster Bank to leave the Irish market, and Bank of Ireland’s announcement that it would close 98 branches in the Republic, an honest and impartial discussion is needed as to what the future of Irish high street banking will look like.

“These announcements, left unaddressed, can lead to one predominant consequence: less competition and greater costs for Irish consumers. This is something that must be avoided.

“We will end up with a banking duopoly of AIB and Bank of Ireland with some part-time players having no real clout. It won’t end well for the Irish economy.

“All the banks operating in Ireland, the Credit Union movement with their billions in cash reserves, and An Post should be brought together and engage with the Government about the way forward for Irish banking and financial services. Each of these sectors should have a common goal in mind – providing the best services and products for the Irish customers.

“For too long, the Credit Union movement has been shut out of banking in this country. This cannot be allowed to continue any longer.

“Hoping for something to change is not a valid strategy. The Irish Government need to address this issue immediately and convene a banking forum where the current state of Irish banking is discussed, and a future roadmap towards a more competitive sector is defined,” concluded Kelleher.