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Credit Unions and the Irish Economy

Published: 7 December 2018
From: Department of Finance


Ireland has one of the highest levels of credit union member penetration in the world.

The credit union sector is a large employer with 3,500 employees, putting it in the top 5 financial services employers in the State.

Credit unions have a volunteer ethos and community focus with 9,200 volunteers involved in the sector.

Credit unions ranked Number 1 again in 2017 for Customer Experience Excellence.

    Credit Union Members in Ireland 3.1 million
    Number of Employees 3,500
    Number of Volunteers 9,200
    Average New Loan 3,400
    Average Saving 3,900
    Total Asssets €16.9 billion
    First Credit Union Founded 1958
    Share of Personal Lending 34%
  • Department of Finance Estimate based on Central bank data on Irish Resident Credit Institutions

Financial Position

As at 31 December 2017, there were 268 active credit unions with assets of approximately €16.9 billion and membership of around 3.1 million.

53 credit unions have assets greater than €100m and collectively account for 55% of the assets of the sector.

Credit unions are very liquid with an average liquidity ratio of 37% and have an average regulatory reserve of 16.8%. Average arrears are now 7.2%.

As with most financial institutions in the current low interest rate environment, credit unions need to increase lending having an average loan to asset ratio of 27%.

Credit Union Stakeholders

268 active credit unions in the Republic of Ireland serve the needs of 3.1 million members.

The role of Minister for Finance is to ensure that the legal framework for credit unions is appropriate.

The Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank is the independent regulator for credit unions in Ireland.

The main representative bodies are:

  • Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) – 389 credit unions affiliated to League in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) – has 14 owner member credit unions and also provides affinity membership for a number of additional credit unions
  • Credit Union Managers Association (CUMA) – represents credit union managers in Ireland
  • National Supervisors Forum (NSF) – supports board oversight committees in the Republic of Ireland and supervisory committees in Northern Ireland
  • Credit Union Advisory Committee (CUAC) is a statutory body providing advice to the Minister for Finance on credit union matters
  • the Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo) was set up to facilitate and support credit union amalgamations

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