Derry Credit Union members save £68m

Despite the ongoing difficult economic climate, Derry Credit Union has had another very successful year accumulating a surplus of almost £3 million.

However, as the recession continues to bite, the Credit Union has had to write off bad debt of 667,000 and set aside 1.5 million for future bad or doubtful debts, an increase of 200,000 on last year.

At the organisation's 49th annual general meeting in the Millennium Forum, members were told the Credit Union's general reserve now stands at more than 8 million and this year's 3 million surplus will be given back to the membership in the form of a 3% dividend on savings and 20% return on interest paid on loans over the past year.

John Bradley, representing the auditors Messrs Moore Stephens Bradley McDaid congratulated the Board of Directors, the management and staff, all the volunteers and the membership on having another exceptional year. Against the current economic climate and the poor return on surplus funds invested in other financial institutions, Mr. Bradley said the Credit Union's end of year accounts were "nothing short of amazing".

Presenting the report of the Board of Directors, Secretary, Patricia Doherty told members that savings had increased by 6.3m to 68m and membership by 937 to more than 28,000, including 6,000 minor accounts.

She said that despite the economic downtown Derry Credit Union had maintained a steady course operating with the same prudence that has characterised the organisation in the past. There had however been an increase in the number of members seeking bankruptcy and IVA contracts and this had contributed to the increase in the number of loans being charged off this year. She reminded members that entering into these contracts terminated their membership of the Credit Union and all outstanding debts must be repaid in full before they could re-join.

The Credit Control report highlighted the determination of the Board to recover all outstanding loans and said the action taken in the past year against those who made no effort to honour their agreements included court action, attachment to earnings, judgement and enforcement, charges against land and debt collection.

Another disappointment during the year has been the continued vandalism of the ATM at Abbey Street, which was installed for the convenience of members and had proved to be extremely popular.

Looking ahead to next year when the Credit Union will celebrate its 50th anniversary, the President Jim Travers said the celebrations of this momentous milestone will include extended sponsorship of youth activities such as school quizzes, annual youth awards and poster competition plus the planting fruit trees in all schools in the area. There will also be sponsorship of two Derry City Council events namely the switching on of Christmas tree lights and the Foyle Days programme. Students will also have the opportunity to apply for one of five bursaries.

Credit Union Joan Gallagher General Manager gave members an enlightening account of her recent visit to Ghana as part of a delegation to advise on the development of Credit Unions on behalf of the International Fund and a proposal that a donation of 13,000 be made to the International Fund for Development of Credit Unions in the Third World was accepted by the members present.