Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called on the Government to allow Credit Unions to play their part in solving the housing crisis.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking after meeting with the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) in the European Parliament this week.
Ms Ní Riada, who sits on the EU Budgets Committee, said that while they discussed the challenges Credit Unions are facing the ILCU were also keen to point out the potential Credit Unions have to contribute to society on a wider level if they get the right support.
“Credit Unions provide a vital service to their communities but there is a real frustration within the ILCU that there is so much more they could do for ordinary working people if they were not hamstrung by regulations designed to reign in toxic banks,” she said.
“The government needs to stop dragging its feet and make the reforms needed by Credit Unions in Ireland to allow them to reach their potential as a genuine public banking network.
“Credit Unions are being held back unnecessarily. They are democratically led, volunteer based, co-operatives. They operate on a non-profit basis, yet face most of the same stringent controls as the banks that destroyed our economy ten years ago.
“It is not necessary or possible for a small, independent credit union to adhere to rules that were designed to reign in ‘too big to fail’ banks.
“We need regulations that are designed to suit the credit union model. The ILCU have clearly outlined the reforms needed and both Government and Central Bank reports have endorsed these reforms.
“One area where they could have a huge impact is housing. The ILCU has been making it clear for a long time that with the necessary political will from Fine Gael, Credit Unions could play an invaluable role in addressing the housing crisis.
“Credit Unions need to be given permission to lend to approved housing bodies. The Government also has to set up a financial vehicle that allows Credit Unions to invest in social housing.
“Irish people deserve a viable alternative to our current banking system and credit unions can offer that.
“This is this yet another case of the government putting the well-being of the pillar banks ahead of the needs of the Irish people. They need to implement these reforms or explain why they refuse to.”