Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach has called on the government to allow Credit Unions to provide low-interest loans to low and middle-income earners so that they are not forced to turn to moneylenders.
Deputy Breathnach explained, "Coming up to Christmas many cash-strapped families have little choice but to turn to money lenders who oftentimes charge exorbitant interest rates – of up to 288%.
"While some Credit Unions offer microloans, such as the “It Makes Sense” loan with an interest rate of 12%, it is only available to social welfare recipients and only 40% of Credit Unions who could operate the loan are doing so.
"This is extremely restrictive and is forcing people on low incomes to engage with moneylenders because they cannot get loans from banks or Credit Unions. I find it disappointing that Drogheda Credit Union doesn’t offer such loans and yet there are two moneylenders operating in the area charging, up to 214.23 percent in interest.
"More must be done to give people the option to take out a loan from the local Credit Union, rather than leaving them with no option but to go to high-interest money lenders", concluded Deputy Breathnach.