New Regulation: the future of Credit Unions in Northern Ireland

30 November 2011
CUNA Mutual Europe hosted a conference titled “The Future of Credit Union Regulation in Northern Ireland” on 26th October in Belfast. The conference focused on sharing the combined experiences of CUNA Mutual and a range of industry experts, offering their first-hand experience of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Northern Ireland Credit Unions operating within a Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulated environment from March 2012.

Credit Unions from across Northern Ireland attended the conference, chaired by Donna Traynor from BBC Newsline. Donna was joined by the following industry experts:

  • Paul Walsh - CEO, CUNA Mutual Europe, Dublin
  • Robert Kelly - General Manager, NHS Credit Union, Glasgow
  • Victor Fornasier - Partner Commercial Insurance, Hogan Lovells Solicitors, London
  • Darina Armstrong - CEO, Progressive Building Society, Belfast


Left to right: Robert Kelly (NHS Credit Union), Donna Traynor (BBC Newsline), Paul Walsh (CUNA Mutual Europe) and Victor Fornaiser (Hogan Lovells Solicitors)

Changing regulatory environment

Robert Kelly’s presentation focused on the positives of FSA regulation noting that, “The regulatory environment has provided many positive benefits to the Credit Union sector, especially Member Deposit Protection being key to selling the image of Credit Union professionalism and effective product and service delivery”. Darina and Robert again focused on what might be required from Credit Unions after March 2012 - their wisdom and advice was practical and helpful.

Paul Walsh in his introduction to the assembled delegates said, “Understanding the road ahead is a good place to be and through the shared experiences of Credit Unions here today we hope to better understand what that road looks like. March 2012 will see the regulation of Northern Ireland Credit Unions pass to the FSA. This new positive era for Credit Unions in Northern Ireland will create challenges and also opportunity”.


Left to right: Tommy Jeffers, President Ulster Federation, Paul Walsh (CUNA Mutual Europe), Darina Armstrong (Progressive Building Society) and William Henderson, Manager of Portadown & Diamond Credit Union

Tommy Jeffers, President of the Ulster Federation expressed his gratitude to CUNA Mutual for having organised the conference in Belfast, he went on to say, “The conference was very informative and useful and would certainly help the Federation in planning for the change in regulation from March 2012”. Other guests thanked CUNA Mutual for the support they were providing to the Northern Ireland Credit Unions.

35 years of support for Credit Unions

In closing Paul Walsh said, “In 1976, due to our deep knowledge of the Credit Union movement and shared ethos we supported the set-up and establishment of the UK movement and are proud of our combined heritage and achievements since then. Our commitment was true then in 1976 and is true now in how we operate, and will always be true of our support for UK and Northern Ireland Credit Unions”. Paul went on to say, “CUNA Mutual is steadfast in its commitment to serve Credit Unions, we are both borne from the same ideas and ethos. We share the same heritage and we are proud to support you ‘Then, Now and Always’. We are always here to extend the hand of friendship.”