Sligo Credit Union recently celebrated their 50th anniversary with an open day in their offices in Stephen Street.
The event was attended by local councillors, Sligo County Council Cathaoirleach Rosaleen O’Grady and Mayor of Sligo Thomas Healy. as well as Sligo MEP Marian Harkin and local TD Tony McLoughlin.
Former and current members of staff from Sligo Credit Union were also present, including founding member Paschal Morrison, who was part of the original committee set up in 1965.
“Sligo Credit Union was formed in March 1965, and commenced business from a rented premises in John Street later that year,” explained Sligo CU Chariman Peter Tiernan at the open day.
“In 1969 a premises was purchased in Teeling Street, from where the Credit Union operated before moving to it’s present premises in Stephen street in the early 90’s.
“Over the past 50 years several hundred ordinary members have given substantial time and energy to bring the Credit Union from it’s humble beginnings with savings of £50 to it’s present level of over €46 million, and a membership of 16,000 people.
“About 7,000 members currently benefit from loans of more than €22 million, and all this activity contributes in a major way to the economy of our community.”
He continued: “Our members today owe a great debt of gratitude to our founders, and to our many Directors, Supervisors and Volunteers, who have given countless evenings and late nights to Sligo Credit Union over the past 50 years. Their prudent oversight and governance has ensured the healthy state of the Credit Union we have today, and I would like to sincerely thank them all.”
Outside the world of customer finances, Sligo Credit Union has had a very hands-on approach to Community initiatives, as Peter explained.
“Many local sporting groups, charities and various events are sponsored or helped in some way by the Credit Union. One of our objectives is to improve the well being of our members, and we look at that as a way to enhance the social fabric of where we live.
“We also believe that a personal caring manner is a distinctive trait of a Credit Union, and one that is appreciated and welcomed by our members. They feel a sense of belonging when they call in to us to transact their business.”
Mr Tiernan explained to the guests and members in attendance how the financial landscape has changed since the 2008 financial crisis. The end result was far more stringent regulations introduced for banks and for credit unions, despite the fact that less than one percent of credit unions needed any state support since the crisis.
“While we welcome strong appropriate regulation that protects both our members and the Credit Union, the additional work imposed by the 2012 Act to comply with regulatory legislation has put a severe strain on our resources, both for staff and Directors.
“Because of this new landscape in which we now operate, there is currently a strong pressure on Credit Unions to amalgamate, merge or transfer, in order to create larger, stronger and more efficient units
“Sligo, which is by far the largest Credit Union in this and surrounding areas, has therefore been identified as an anchor Credit Union, and a model of good practise by the Regulatory Authorities. We remain open to requests from other Credit Unions to discuss further possible mergers.”
He added “To date North Sligo Credit Union in Grange has transferred to Sligo, and we are currently finalising the transfer of Collooney and District Credit Union. In both cases a wider range of services is being made available to the additional members, who can be assured of a warm welcome.”