Proposal for an all-Ireland public banking system

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has added her voice to calls for an all-Ireland public banking system.The Ireland South MEP made the call as she was speaking at the launch of the Public Banking Forum of Ireland’s proposal document on an Alternative Banking Force yesterday. Ms Ní Riada said the document had to the potential “to bring real, tangible and long lasting gains for Irish society.”

“A public banking system would provide a myriad of possibilities for local economic development; aiding diversification in rural areas, and facilitating the creation of quality jobs in our towns and villages,” she said.

“SMEs form the core of Ireland’s economy. Although many towns have been made dependent on Foreign Direct Investment, it remains our SME sector that drives our economy. Access to credit is vital for their survival and growth. It follows too, that localised and public-interest control of credit will support this sector.

“At present our so-called pillar banks, control 95% of the credit market. In effect a handful of almighty CEOs control the credit supply in Ireland. Their singular interests are the performance of their respective banks, and ensuring a return for their shareholders.

“This model has been proven to be unstable. It vests huge economic power in the hands of a few. And it is not the norm in many of the most successful economies in Europe. Many of my colleagues on the EU Budgets Committee find it hard to understand why Ireland does not already have a Public Banking system.

“Germany has had a public banking system for over two centuries. Many other countries in Europe have similar systems that are both stable and sustainable. Ireland is in dire need of a radical change in our banking set up. Earlier this year I had a series of meetings with stakeholders to gauge the appetite for their collaboration in establishing a public banking system in Ireland.

“I met with the Central Bank, with the Irish League of Credit Unions, with the National Treasury Management Agency and with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland. It struck me following this round of meetings that all the ingredients are there for a public banking system in Ireland. What’s missing is the political will.

“We need political will for a system of public banking but we also need popular support. Building the demand for an alternative banking force will be a vital step in realising the vision contained in this document. The PBFI has done huge work already in winning support for the concept, and we must continue in that vein.”

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