DUBLIN, Ireland—The growth in size and influence of the Irish credit union movement over the past five decades stands in testimony to the abilities of its executives and dedication of its members. That was the message World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Chairman Melvin Edwards brought to members of the Irish League of Credit Unions, who had gathered in this historic city last month for the league's annual general meeting and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Irish credit union movement.
"The impressive growth and expansion of the Irish movement over the past 50 years to a membership of some 3 million is indeed worthy of celebration," said Edwards, who also serves as director for the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions. The WOCCU chairman and Pete Crear, president and CEO of the international credit union trade and development organization, joined 1,500 delegates from 365 Irish credit unions for the two-day meeting and anniversary celebration.
The tremendous efforts of those associated with the movement can take credit for the success of Ireland's credit unions, according to ILCU President Uel Adair. The extended anniversary celebration will also include the issuance of commemorate stamps in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the launch of a country-wide marketing campaign, and the May 22 inaugural Nora Herlihy Memorial Lecture by global anti-poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof.
"In Bob Geldof, Ireland has another passionate advocate and tireless worker on behalf of the poor and socially excluded," said Adair. "We are extremely delighted and honored that he is coming to Dublin specifically to deliver our inaugural lecture."
Geldof, a Dublin County native and former lead singer of The Boomtown Rats, is best known for his fundraising efforts to eradicate global poverty. In 1985, he was instrumental in organizing Live Aid, employing the contributions of a who's who of international pop music stars to raise £150 million for famine relief in Africa. Nora Herlihy ran Ireland's first credit union and is considered a pioneer of the Irish credit union movement.
Highlights of ILCU's National Advertising Campaign, designed to show credit unions as putting a human face on financial services, and the newly minted Credit Union Practice Training Program, developed by ILCU in partnership with the University of Ulster, also were topics of discussion during the meeting. Designers of the ad campaign hope to clarify the credit union difference for Ireland's 4 million-member population, while the training program, through its 14 credit union-specific modules, is designed to increase workplace capabilities and improve service to members. Both plans show a movement dedicated to continued advancement and improved member service, said Edwards.
"World Council's participation in these commemorative events is more than mere recognition of Ireland's immense contribution to international credit union development and to the strength of WOCCU itself," Edwards said. "The programs also anticipate ILCU's accelerated progress in surmounting current regulatory and other challenges and initiating the Irish movement's next phase of strategic transformation."
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.