We have recently launched our new creditunion website and some of the new features we have included are Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter and this our Presidents Blog.

I hope to maintain a regular blog here, where we can share inclusive and informative debates on how we can progress in terms of services.

Martin Sisk



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ILCU Launch Results of Costs of 3rd Level Education Study

Today, after a nerve wracking wait, 57,000 leaving certificate students around the country will receive their results. It is an anxious time for both parents and students alike and we wish everyone the very best of luck. Don’t despair if you don’t get the points that you wanted, there are plenty of options open to you and plenty of advice out there too. It is usually at his time of the year we take a look at just how much third level education costs. In July 2014, we asked parents of college going children about the cost of sending their children to college in Ireland. The results highlight what the impact of sending children to college (in financial terms) has on family spending and budgets as well as the challenges and concerns parents have in relation to finance, grants, living away from home and job prospects.

Here is what parents are saying:

79% of parents in Ireland support their children with college related cost by contributing an average of €428 per month per child. However, 64% of all parents struggle in some way with the costs of college. 39% of parents say it is really hard and feel the costs are constantly increasing with a further 18% saying that they will not be able to manage college related costs for their children at all.

In terms of how parents cover the costs – the tracker shows that savings are now the most common way in which parents fund their children’s third level education (47% of parents say they will use savings in August 2014 compared to 42% in 2013. This is followed with monthly income (46% in 2014 v 44% in 2013), credit union loan (29% in 2014 v 25% in 2013) is the third most common option followed by a grant (12%) 

The study also finds that many parents are planning ahead for college related costs for their children with parents are now saving for an average of 8 years to ensure they have enough savings to cover the cost of sending their children to college.

72% of family budgets have been adversely affected by the increased registration, this figure is the same as the tracker research findings in August 2013. 60% of parents say they will just about be able to manage to pay it. A further 12% say they can’t afford to pay it and are worried that their child will have to drop out of college as a result. Only 28% say the increased costs will have no impact on them.

42% of students receive a grant (this includes small grants like Erasmus mobility grant). This represents a decrease of 6% since 2013. 21% believe that the grant is sufficient to cover college related costs.  79% of parents believe the grant is not sufficient.

44% of students now live away from home compared to 32% in 2013. The average monthly rent has increased to €346 (countrywide) from €343 in 2013. 

42% of parents say that their biggest concern is that their child will not get a job after college, misuse of alcohol is the second most pronounced worry (14%)

51% of students will have to work to contribute to the cost of their college experience. A typical student with a job works an average of 19 hours per week throughout the academic year. Female students are working slightly longer hours than male students.

Going to college can be very stressful for parents as the cost of third level education can certainly be a significant financial burden. Families are already struggling with the wider impact of austerity and the economic downturn and paying for college has become increasingly challenging for many. The increased registration fee of €2750 alone puts huge pressure on family budgets but when you factor in all of the extras, rent, bills, food, travel etc, the costs begin to spiral.
We want to let people know that credit unions are available to support both parents and students as they prepare for the academic year. Credit unions offer some of the most competitive personal, student and education loan rates on the market. We encourage anyone who is looking to finance their education or who simply want some advice on planning ahead or budgeting to call into their local credit union and speak to a member of staff.

For Example

In relation to credit union rates, many offer a dedicated student loan rate, which is often significantly less that the credit union’s standard rate. This is done to make third level education as accessible as possible for students. Of those credit unions who offer dedicated student loan rates, the average rate is approximately 6.4% APR. Some credit union offer rates as low as 4%.

Sample Rates

For a €3,000 student loan at a rate of 4% (4.25% APR) with 12 monthly repayments of €255.45, the total amount repayable by the member will  be €3,065.40

For a €3,000 student loan at a rate 5% (5.1 % APR) with 12 monthly repayments of €256.82, the total amount repayable by the member will  be €3,081.87


Mountmellick Credit Union - 4% (4.25% APR)

Gorey Credit Union - 4.9% (5% APR)

Mullingar Credit Union - 5% (5.1% APR)

Castleblayney Credit Union - 5% (5.1% APR)

St. Anthonys and Claddagh  Credit Union - 6% (6.2% APR)

Castlebar Credit Union - 6.5% (6.7% APR)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Annual GR8 Savers Week

Every year, credit unions around the country take part in GR8 Savers Week. This is a week-long initiative aimed at encouraging a savings habit among younger children, while educating young people on how to have a smart relationship with money. In 2014, GR8 Savers week will run from Monday 12th – 18th May 2014.

We have all been witness to the recent economic instability in this country and many of us are being impacted as a result of austerity measures.  There continues to be a daily struggle for many families in terms of their personal finances. Our quarterly household income and expenditure the ‘What’s Left’ tracker  shows us that since December 2013 those in mortgage arrears increasing; more and more people are turning to their credit card to make ends meet at the end of the month, hundreds are putting off paying their essentials bills every month and worryingly there has been an increase in those turning to moneylenders to bump up monthly income in the struggle for financial survival. Given how important financial skills are in navigating life, it is vital that we educate younger members of society about the merits of investing in their own futures, by sound financial planning and responsible money management.

It is true to say that most of us have learnt a very hard lesson about the value of money and the importance of saving for a rainy day, no matter how small the amount. Our young people are no different and it is incumbent on us all to ensure that our children recognize not only the value of money but also the importance of understanding how saving works. Credit unions in communities around the country want to help local parents to give their children a solid financial education from a young age and we would invite any member of the community to call into their local credit union office to join in the fun and activity.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 Car Insurance

In exciting news, it was announced at the recent ILCU AGM that credit unions can now offer online car insurance. The announcement comes just months after the launch of the worldwide travel insurance.

The recent ILCU ‘What’s left’ tracker showed that
  • 6 in 10 motorists switching car insurance in the past 12 months in an effort to reduce motor related costs
  • One in four motorists find car insurance expensive and cannot afford to pay it. A further 53% feel there is good value in the insurance market but still struggle to make their insurance payments.
  • 85% of motorists have taken measures to cut down on car related expenses down  and over half (54%) drive less to save on petrol. Switching providers (insurance and garage) is also more popular than when the last research was undertaken in April 2012.
  • 21% of motorists have changed their car to a smaller, cheaper to run model and a further 32% intend to change their car. There has been a fall in the number of people paying their car insurance on time 91% in April 2014 down from 94% in April 2012. 6 in 10 adults have delayed servicing their car as they can’t afford it.
  • 34% of motorists are really struggling with the costs of motoring
The new car insurance will be a website based product that will offers members greater accessibility, good value and most importantly excellent cover, providing peace of mind when motoring. car insurance is being offered in conjunction with AIG Europe which offers car insurance. Apart from offering great value, the other advantages of car insurance include:

  • Unique offer for credit union members – 12 months cover for the price of 11 months.
  • No administration fees if you make a change to your policy during the year i.e. no setup fee or if you make a change to your policy
  • Flexible products tailored to suit your needs.
  • Automatic stepback no claims bonus or optional protected no claims bonus
  • Breakdown assist and legal expenses - optional
  • Driver Personal Accident Cover - optional

A unique AIG Telematics Smartphone App is available to download when you purchase car insurance and offers you real time information on your driving, gives you a score for each completed journey and allows you to track your progress toward additional discounts and receive offers from AIG.

RTE News Coverage:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Update on Judicial Review Proceedings

We welcome the news that the proceedings are being withdrawn on the commitment from the Central Bank of Ireland to do new asset reviews in relation to all of the credit unions named in the judicial review litigation and a new understanding with the Central Bank of Ireland, which will explicitly involve the Irish League of Credit Unions (“ILCU”) in the regulatory affairs of its affiliated credit unions.

The terms of settlement of the litigation include an agreement that the Central Bank will conduct new asset reviews, and the publication of a letter of intent from the Central Bank of Ireland to the ILCU.  This result is a significant step forward for ILCU affiliated credit unions and commits the Central Bank of Ireland to a real and meaningful engagement with the ILCU and its affiliated credit unions, together with the opportunity to have the ILCU represent and/or assist those credit unions in their dealings with the Central Bank of Ireland.

ILCU affiliated credit unions are best served where the regulator works in conjunction with the ILCU and through this settlement, the Central Bank of Ireland acknowledges the unique role of the ILCU.

A significant purpose of this litigation was to achieve a new way of operating on the part of the Central Bank of Ireland which involves the ILCU and this has now been achieved.  This is a positive and very welcome development for ILCU affiliated credit unions and all those who want and need to have a healthy, vibrant and flourishing credit union movement.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Galway set to host major Credit Union Youth Conference

This weekend the Irish league of Credit unions will hold its annual Youth Conference in Galway. This is the 8th annual Youth Conference and the two day event, which will see over 200 credit union representatives travel to Galway, is one of the most popular and important in the credit union calendar. The conference is an opportunity to share information and for credit unions to learn from one another. Young people are very important to the credit union movement and this particular age group have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy with high levels of youth unemployment and indeed emigration. Credit unions are very cognisant of their role in supporting young people in Ireland and this event allows us to share ideas on how to further engage with this segment of the population.
A key item for discussion on the agenda is the importance of credit unions growing and expanding their range of services, particularly electronic services, for young credit union members. The conference will also look at the role of the credit union in assisting families and students to meet the escalating costs of third level education. A number of other topics such as engaging, empowering and supporting young people and the role of the credit union in providing broad financial education to secondary and third level students in Ireland will also feature throughout the event. The conference participants will hear presentations from the National Youth Council of Ireland, the ILCU Youth Committee and social media experts, among others.
Credit unions are deeply involved at local community level in Ireland and we want to continue to play a role in helping families provide children and young adults, not only with a financial education, but also a good savings habit from a young age. In fact throughout every life stage - communion / confirmation, back to school, college, weddings, buying a car, making home improvements and planning a funeral - the credit union is there to help.  We are delighted to be back in Galway and as always we look forward to interesting presentations and lively debate throughout the conference weekend

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

29th Year of the All Ireland Credit Union Art Competition

Last weekend, the 29th All Ireland Credit Union Art Competition took place at Croke Park in Dublin. Over thirty national prize winners from communities around the country gathered, with their friends and families and Marty Whelan, at a special prize giving event. Many braved the bad weather conditions to travel all morning to be at the event and we were delighted that they were able to join us. The art competition continues to be one of the most successful events run by the credit union movement and we are delighted that so many people take part year on year. This year, we had a huge 30,000 entries to the competition across all age groups.
The competition itself caters for all ages, with categories ranging from under 7, to 18 years and over. There are two categories, General and Special, with five age groups in each. The Special category invites artists with a physical or intellectual disability to submit entries in free expression, without the restrictions of the competitions official theme if they so wish.
I was personally delighted to see the flair and creativity of those who entered this year’s competition  and I am in awe of the outstanding level of imagination reflected in this year’s entries. The theme ‘Gotta Lotta Colour’ is clearly visible in each and every entry. It is so interesting to see how uniquely each of the artists interpreted the theme.
I have to say a very big thank you to the volunteers in over 300 credit unions around the country through which the competition was run. Without their help, we would not be able to put together such a large scale competition. I want to also say well done to everyone else involved, including our judges John Walsh, Creative Director FOCUS Advertising Agency, Ursula Retzlaff O’Connell, Artist, John Farrelly, Cartoonist.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Credit unions are still vital in local communities

The announcement by the Central Bank that for the first time in our history, a bank has taken over a credit union was a sad day for the Irish credit union movement which has delivered extraordinary service to its membership for more than 50 years.

The news is ever more disconcerting when one considers that in the last five years the Irish banks, which cost the state €64 billion continue to remain moribund. There has been no significant lending and their mortgage arrears problem continues to escalate.  In this environment, credit unions, while not shielded from the general economic difficulties, remain a coherent social and economic force in society.

It should be remembered that Irish Banks tripled in size (€201 billion assets to €621 billion assets) between the boom years of 2003 and 2008, borrowing heavily to fund this exceptional and unhindered growth. In contrast credit unions grew at much more modest rates, growing by 38% over the same period 2003-2008 (peaking at €13bn assets), and were totally self-financed throughout.

Notwithstanding the recent difficult climate, credit union membership continues to increase, especially over the period of entrenchment in the economy.  The increase in membership may also be as a result of the disenchantment Irish people have with the banks. The crisis and the way in which the banks have been dealing with their customers have had a huge impact on the reputation of the banks. In addition, banks seem to have withdrawn from the market for personal loans, particularly for small personal loans for things like education and communions etc..  Another important statistic is that savings in credit unions are up, and have increased by 0.9% for the 9 months to June 2013 to €10.5 billion.  This is remarkable given the reduced dividends paid by credit unions in recent years.

The recent announcements regarding the exit of international banks from the Irish financial services sector means that there is now more than ever, greater scope for Ireland’s credit unions to offer a vital link between the Irish public and accessible, community based financial services.  Therefore it is hugely important that the Government, and by extension the Central Bank, do everything they can to ensure that the credit union movement is safe guarded and protected.  The circumstances of the Newbridge Credit Union takeover will be revealed in the fullness of time.  In the interim, it is vital that we recognise and respect the social and economic role that credit unions continue to play at a difficult juncture in our history.  Newbridge Credit Union is an exception and not a rule.  However, credit unions must move forward with confidence.  It is important that we continue to be there for those in our society who need a helping hand, by offering small affordable loans to our credit worthy members and a secure environment for our member’s savings.