What is community banking? What are the benefits of it and why would it be good for the people of Northern Ireland?
A number of organisations and individuals from the community, voluntary and charity sector attended an event yesterday at Queen’s University, Belfast, organised by Our Money Campaign, Co-operative Alternatives and Dr John Barry (QUB), to hear more about how to set up a community bank.
John Moore from the Community Savings Bank Association explained to the meeting what a community bank would mean and the benefits and challenges of setting one up in Northern Ireland.
Mr Moore also said that community banks operate within local regions and are obliged to serve needs in that local region only and that all lending decisions are made locally.
Others who addressed the event included Bridget Meehan (Our Money Campaign), Tiziana O’Hara (Co-operative Alternatives) and John Barry.
The campaign for a community bank for Northern Ireland appears to be gathering strength given the positive reaction at the meeting.
The discussion was held against the backdrop of Northern Ireland losing 296 free-to-use cash machines in a 17-month period, new figures revealed.
Poorer communities have been hardest hit by the changes, with those most reliant on cash and who can least afford to pay for withdrawals facing charges or being forced to travel to access money for free.