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Derry Credit Union set up by John Hume reaches million loan milestone

Millionth loan recipient William Moore with (left to right) Carolann Doherty, Siobhan Boyle, Donna Harkin and Susanne Cooley.
Seamus McKinney

A CREDIT Union which Nobel laureate John Hume helped establish has reached a major milestone with the pay-out of its one millionth loan.

Despite winning the three biggest peace prizes in the world (Nobel, Gandhi and Martin Luther King), Mr Hume has always considered his role in helping establish Derry Credit Union in 1960 as his greatest achievement.

Speaking some years ago, the former SDLP leader said: “It’s the thing I’m proudest off because no movement has done more good for the people of Ireland, north and south, than the Credit Union movement.”

By establishing in Derry, the credit union helped lift people out of poverty without recourse to major banks.

The five other founding members of Derry Credit Union in October 1960 were: Fr Anthony Mulvey, Michael Canavan, Paddy “Bogside” Doherty, Paddy Joe Doherty and George McDaid.

General manager at Derry Credit Union, Joan Gallagher said the £550 million in loans paid out was made possible by members pooling their savings.

“With their credit union loans, borrowing members have invested in their children, families and local community. The credit union model works,” she said.

The Derry manager said the success showed what could be achieved by ordinary people when they believed in themselves and worked together.

“Our record growth in membership, shares and loans issued is testament to the need for our services and reflects the fact that we exist to serve the best interest of our member and not the bottom line.

“We are rooted in the community. Our board is a voluntary board. Our members know our directors and staff. This gives us credibility, gives members confidence and makes the credit union an approachable, friendly place to do business,” she said.

President of Derry Credit Union, Patricia Doherty said the 50,500 members had loyally passed down the values of the credit union movement from generation to generation.

The member who took out the millionth loan, William Moore said he had always used Credit Union loans to cover major costs, from travelling to his brother’s wedding in Thailand to paying for his own education.

Business leader Gavin Killeen said the credit union was one of the foundations of the local economy.

President of the city’s chamber of commerce, Mr Killeen said: “The credit union has provided much support for small businesses and has often been the first port of call when traditional lenders were reluctant or slow to respond to requests.”

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