March 4, 2021
“Now is the time for an alternative public banking model” – Chris MacManus MEP

“Now is the time for an alternative public banking model” – Chris MacManus MEP

Midlands Northwest MEP welcomes Green’s alignment with Sinn Féin paper

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has welcomed the publication of the Green Party’s new position paper on public banking. The Midlands Northwest MEP argues that the withdrawal of Ulster Bank from the Irish market and the closure of over 100 Bank of Ireland branches across the country highlights the need for a new alternative banking system especially in rural Ireland.

MacManus said:

“I welcome the publication of the Green Party’s new position paper on public banking. It contains a number or proposals that Sinn Féin would like to see explored. Sinn Féin have previously published a document looking at how Public Banking could work in Ireland. The issue of public banking has been on the agenda for a number of years and the withdrawal of Ulster Bank from the Irish market and the closure of over 100 Bank of Ireland branches across the country highlights the urgency of examining the possibility of a new public banking model.”

“These announcements in the last two weeks have come as a huge blow for workers, communities, mortgage holders and small businesses. It will have a hugely negative impact on SME lending and will leave a huge number of people, particularly those in rural communities, without any local banking services.”

The Sinn Féin MEP pointed to successful examples globally, “Public banking exists in 21 European countries and many more across the world. The German Sparkasse Bank and the New Zealand Kiwibank are two such examples and have proven to be a huge success and very popular among citizens of those countries. The main focus of these banks isn’t on maximizing shareholder profits but rather benefiting the communities that they serve.”

“Public banking was dismissed by Government following the Indecon Report of 2019 which found that there was not a compelling case for the establishment of a state-owned public banking network because commercial banks were fulfilling the role. That is clearly no longer the case now that Ulster Bank is withdrawing and Bank of Ireland closing branches, and the Indecon Report can no longer be used as an excuse to avoid exploring this issue.”

“The Credit Unions and Post Offices have an important role to play in this, and the failure to sufficiently expand the financial services provided by them has minimized their growth and profits. The Government must now engage with Credit Unions and Post Offices to explore the possibility of utilizing their existing infrastructure for a new public banking system. The Kiwibank model, where banks and post offices share the same building, is an example of how existing infrastructure can be used for banking purposes.”

MacManus concluded by calling on the Greens to work with their government partners to advance the conversation, “I strongly urge the Green Party to use their position within Government to advance this idea and begin the move towards an alternative Irish banking serves that serves the needs of its customers rather than its shareholders. There is an opportunity to do right by the people here and all parties must embrace it.” ENDS

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