TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE was grilled in the Dáil today about the future of credit unions in Ireland with reports suggesting a large percentage of them are in trouble.
Responding to a question from Fianna Fáil TD Sean O’Fearghaíl, Gilmore said the reference in reports to one in four credit unions being in difficulty arises from the 100 credit unions portfolios that are being assessed by the Central Bank because of a range of supervisory issues and concerns such as levels of arrears.
The Tánaiste said that of the 392 credit unions in the country, twenty of them have reported regulatory reserves below the minimum requirement of ten per cent of assets.
This gives rise to a capital shortfall of about €11 million but Gilmore added this must be put in the context of the €500 million in funds the government has made available.
Newbridge Credit Union was taken over by Permanent TSB this week as it emerged that it had given out loans of up to €3.2 million – considerably more than the average credit union loan of €7,764.
While Gilmore asserted that the action taken was “necessary” he said the government “supports the credit union movement” and will support the establishment of a new credit union in Newbridge.
Yesterday the Tánaiste insisted that the takeover by PTSB is a “one-off case” and that it would not have ramifications for other credit unions around the country.
In today’s round of Leaders’ Questions, Gilmore was also challenged by Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams on the government’s commitment to tackling youth unemployment, with the Taoiseach over in Paris for a conference on the topic.
The tense mood in the Dáil chamber was somewhat lifted when Adams said that Chubby Checker would envy the Tánaiste’s “ability to do the twist” with issues.
Adams questioned why the government had not specifically included a commitment in the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs to address levels of unemployment and emigration among the young people in this country.
However Gilmore responded that the whole plan is “designed and dedicated and directed at the creation of employment, including employment of young people.”