The subject of credit unions maintaining their connections with the whole of society in a changing world drew a large crowd of credit unionists and stakeholders to Portlaoise, Ireland on 23rd May. Participants came from Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to address this critical topic. Here is a summary of the day. A report on the proceedings of the event and the presentations are available to view and download below.

The conference was opened by our brilliant keynote speakers: Charlie Weston and Cathal Doherty. Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor of the Irish Independent, summarised decades of obstacles credit unions have faced while passionately urging credit unions to advocate for themselves. Cathal Doherty, Statistician at the Central Statistics Office, then provided an overview of demographic trends in Ireland.

Charlie Weston and Cathal Doherty then took a seat on stage as part of the Expert Panel, joined by Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA, Mick McAteer, Co-Director at the Financial Inclusion Centre, and Alan McQuaid, Economic and Financial Market Analyst. The panel discussed the issues and challenges facing credit unions, including addressing common bond diversity.

Lorraine Corcoran, CEO of Afanite, was introduced by David Malone, CEO of The Irish League of Credit Unions, before presenting findings from a research project focused on the complex relationship Irish credit unions currently have with small loans.

Andy T. Price, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and General Council for the World Council of Credit Unions, gave the audience a trip around the world of credit union collaborations, including examples from Brazil, Guatemala, North Korea and the USA.

After lunch the Practitioner Panel, comprising Catherine Byrne, COO Health Services Staffs Credit Union, Paula Maguire, CEO Lucan Credit Union, Elaine Rae, CEO NHS Credit Union and,  Alan Roche, CEO Heritage Credit Union, talked about the changing nature of their common bonds, and how their credit unions sought to address the breadth of needs members.

In the afternoon, Miranda Flury from Hawkeye Strategies in Canada kept delegates on their toes as she took them through a method for bringing strategic resilience into their thinking and planning.

There was a real buzz to the day and feedback has been really positive. A massive Swoboda thank you to all the day’s presenters, and to attendees for contributing their questions, energy and enthusiasm. Thanks also to our conference sponsor Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland.

Here is the report, plus the materials by session (there were no slides for the panels):


    1. Introduction, Dr Paul A. Jones, Swoboda Research Centre and Liverpool John Moores University
    2. Engaging with Modern Ireland, Charlie Weston and Cathal Doherty
    3. Small Loans: Unsung Heroes? Lorraine Corcoran
    4. Credit Union Collaboration Around the World, Andy T. Price
    5. If you score an A+ on your scorecard, can your credit union still fail? Miranda V. Flury

CPD – The conference is approved by the LIA for four hours of CPD. The event should be recorded in logs as ‘Swoboda Research Centre – Who Do We Serve? Credit Union Conference, 23rd May,’ accreditation number LIA16062_2023.