Banking on the community, investing locally for resilience: webinar on April 14

This event, the first of two on finance organised by FEASTA and the Cork Environmental Forum, explored the potential for community-focused banking to help reorient the Irish economy in a healthier direction.

The withdrawal of Ulster Bank and the recently announced closure of 88 branches of the Bank of Ireland is adding to a worrying sense of precarity in the Irish financial sector. The COVID pandemic, a loss of confidence stemming from commercial bank scandals over the past few years, the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crash, and the many pressing social concerns we are facing – including the housing shortage, rural depopulation and unemployment – are all sources of concern.

And looming in the background are the environmental crisis and (related) resource depletion, exposing the sector to risks which, while hidden to many, are nonetheless alarming.

So how can we adapt our financial sector to help alleviate this situation? What useful lessons can be learnt from elsewhere?

This event presented practical possibilities from a community perspective, and included a question and answer session.

Information about the speakers and links to their presentations can be found below.

Video timeline:

0:20 – Caroline Whyte of Feasta introduces the event, and speaks about the global economic and ecological context for community banking (note: this was re-recorded after the event because of technical glitches)
15:28 – Gerry Duddy of the Public Banking Forum of Ireland outlines aspects of Community Public Banking, the German model (Sparkassen) and the Irish situation
30:39 – Bridget Meehan of the Northern Mutual campaign describes this initiative to create a regional mutual bank in Northern Ireland
50:25 – Neasa Hourigan, Green Party T.D. for Dublin South Central, speaks about the new context for public banking in Ireland
1:03:16 – Questions and answers moderated by Bernie Connolly of Cork Environmental Forum

Presentations:

Caroline Whyte, FEASTA – A global perspective on community banking, ecology and regeneration

Caroline Whyte is an ecological economist doing research and advocacy for FEASTA. Her particular interests are in financial system reform and climate change mitigation.

Gerry Duddy, Public banking Forum of IrelandCommunity Banking in an Irish Context
Gerry Duddy is Secretary of the Public Banking Forum of Ireland (PBFI) and undertakes research for the Forum, which he has been involved with since 2014.

Bridget Meehan – Democratising finance with mutual banking

Bridget Meehan is a left activist and writer, and is co-founder of the Northern Mutual campaign for a mutual bank in the north of Ireland.

Neasa Hourigan, T.D. – A new context for public banking

Neasa is the Irish Green Party Spokesperson on Finance. She spoke on the need to ensure regional and under-served community access to banking services, with a view to establishing a material public banking system.

Follow-up Event Autumn 2021

Our follow-up event, to be held in the second half of 2021, will focus on ‘top-down’ measures, including legislation and changes to central banking policy, that could help to bring about a systemic transformation in finance in Ireland and elsewhere.

Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members. 

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