The civil rights veteran and former SDLP leader, John Hume, has been credited with helping to import financial co-operativism into Ireland by establishing one of the first credit unions on these islands in Derry in the late 1950s.
Mr. Hume was recognised for his role in developing the self-help financial services model during the passage of the Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Bill through the Dáil.
“Co-operative financial services have also been successful in Ireland with the establishing of the credit union movement,” said Independent T.D. Tommy Broughan, speaking in support of the bill, which is aimed at easing the formation and functioning of co-operatives In Ireland.
“It came to this country from the United States through the great John Hume, who started the first one in Derry,” said Deputy Broughan.
The Irish credit union movement was originally inspired by the Cork-schoolteacher Nora Herlihy who in the 1950s was asked by the US Credit Union National Association to investigate the roll-out of the Credit Union model in Ireland.
The Derry Credit Union, established in 1960, was one of the first of its kind on the island of Ireland. Only the Donore Credit Union in Dublin (founded 1958), and the Clones Credit Union (founded 1959) in Monaghan pre-dated what has since become a Derry institution.
The Derry Credit Union was the first co-operative lending service established in the North and is the first recorded credit union in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Deputy Broughan said: “Co-operatives are a powerful tradition in our country and it seems that, in the interim period, and particularly following the horrible years of grotesque capitalism under Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, we have totally neglected this sector.”
John Hume, credited for helping bring Credit Union model to Ireland.