WATERFORD, Ireland – Members of the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) have taken the first step in rebuilding the organization. For the past several years, members have been frustrated with a number of failed initiatives by the ILCU including a costly failure to set up a national computer system that credit unions were supposed to be able to tap into. It got to the point where members threatened to disaffiliate from ILCU. They have John Hume, a member of the European Parliament, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and a man who was instrumental in the establishment of credit unions in Ireland, to thank for helping the ILCU to survive the turmoil. After a heated start at the 1st Biennual Delegates Meeting held in Waterford, Ireland April 26th, attendees listened as Hume cited some of the areas of progress made over the past year. Attendess also heard a positive interim report on the implementation of reforms at the Irish League of Credit Unions that was given to the meeting by the League Review Commission's Independent Chairperson, Phil Flynn. That was apparently enough to convince ILCU members to vote to put the past behind them and move on to the future. Flynn told the meeting that the League Board and staff had embraced the process of change with "earnestness and diligence". This was different from earlier recommendations that had been ignored by ILCU. "I want to say unequivocally that nothing has been too much for them. I have been impressed by their attitude and the determination to adopt change. Much has been done, but there is more to do," Flynn told delegates. The delegates welcomed ILCU's new CEO, Liam Dwyer who was hired after the former leader stepped down as a result of the problems. The Biennual Meeting was one of the recommendations approved last June from the report "Time For Change" generated by an independent Review Commission headed by Flynn. Among other decisions reached was one to liquidate ILUTECH, which was the company formed to implement the failed computer system. Credit unions also voted to accept PEARLS, The World Council of Credit Union's monitoring and measuring system rather than the CAMEL system, which is currently being used. A recommendation will be made to the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) to adopt PEARLS as well. IFSRA will take over the regulatory role of credit unions over the next two years. Fee structures have also changed including the elimination of single lump sum annual contributions in favor of separate payments for affiliation, life insurance premiums on loans, and Savings Protection Scheme contributions. Delegates at the meeting weres told that the new funding system would inject much greater transparency into the process. The delegates also endorsed the draft strategic plan prepared by the League for the development of services to member credit unions. The detail of the plan will be discussed in due course at chapter level. -

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