MEMBERS VENT ANGER AT AGM
Four board members of Mitchelstown Credit Union lost their seats at a stormy annual general meeting of Mitchelstown Credit Union on Tuesday night. The meeting, at The Firgrove Hotel, was attended by close on one thousand people considering that over nine hundred people voted.
Michael Hanrahan, James Morrissey, Tara O’Doherty and Eileen O’Sullivan were voted out while Michael McEldowney, John Casey, Michael Coughlan and Ian Malcolm were elected to the board. The only outgoing board member to retain his seat was David Kent.
The services of a human resource company engaged on a consultancy basis by Mitchelstown Credit Union are to be discontinued on foot of a motion that was passed at the meeting. The proposal came after Mitchelstown Credit Union officers confirmed that the company was being paid €1,600 per month and that an interim manager, employed on a consultancy basis, had been reimbursed to the tune of €48,000 for a four months stint.
The meeting also heard that eight staff members including two managers had left Mitchelstown Credit Union over a two year period. One member present at the meeting, claimed that board/employee relations were ‘dreadful’.
Following severe and persistent pressure from members in an angry mood, the president of Mitchelstown Credit Union, Kevin O’Flynn, confirmed that the Financial Regulator had earlier ‘suggested’ that two board members should resign in the best interest of the credit union earlier this year. When pressed to identify the board members concerned, Mr O’Flynn refused to do so, citing ‘legal constraints’ and expressing the view that the issue was ‘a private matter’.
The chairman also expressed regret that Mitchelstown Credit Union had endured tough times during 2008 as a result of ‘negative reports in the local press’. However, he admitted that there was ‘room for improvement’ and pledged to do better in the year ahead.
Issues relating to the notice given to members regarding the date of the AGM were also raised with a number of people present claiming that the notification had been ‘inadequate’.
However, Mitchelstown Credit Union secretary, Michael Hanrahan, while regretting the relatively short notice given, said that the Financial Regulator had given the go ahead for the annual general meeting.
The meeting was assured by treasurer Carmel Dowling that the branch was in a very healthy financial position.
There was further drama when a motion to recommend a dividend of 0.5%, proposed for recommendation by the treasurer seemed initially to have been voted down on a show of hands. Ms Dowling then intervened, urging members to display ‘caution’ and confirming that this was the maximum amount being allowed by the Financial Regulator in the case of Mitchelstown Credit Union.
She further added that it was not at the discretion of the board of the credit union to increase this figure and that no dividend would be paid if the meeting voted against the motion.
After some further discussion and confirmation by ILCU (Irish League of Credit Unions) executive member, Con O’Brien of Kilmallock that it was ‘in order’ to seek another show of hands, the motion to recommend the dividend was subsequently passed.
A motion to recommend a rebate of 5% on loan interest was also approved. Former Mitchelstown Credit Union manager, Michael Hennessy, speaking from the floor, raised the issue of the non-placement of an advert to promote the annual general meeting in The Avondhu. He described the non-placement of the ad as ‘small minded and vindictive’.
In response, the chairman and president, Kevin O’Flynn said that the credit union was being ‘prudent’ with members’ money and that the AGM had received ’enough publicity anyway’.
Amidst impassioned pleas from the floor for a change of culture at Mitchelstown Credit Union, Kevin O’ Flynn said that an independent review was currently being carried out under a ‘corporate governance’ procedure.
Promising that he and fellow board members would do everything in their power to address the issues raised, Mr O’Flynn then called on Carmel Motherway who is carrying out the review to address the meeting.
Ms Motherway, in a brief contribution, said that she was both ‘encouraged’ and ‘dismayed’ by what she had heard at the AGM. She agreed that members deserved to have their say and promised that the review would be far ranging and comprehensive.
Speaking to The Avondhu on this Wednesday, president Kevin O’Flynn, said: “It was a very tough meeting for the top table but we needed to hear what the members had to say. It was good to clear the air. The meeting dispelled some rumours flying around and the board now has to rebuild confidence. We will deal with all the issues raised.”
When questioned about the appointment of a manager, Mr O’Flynn said: “Interviews have taken place and we hope to appoint a full-time manager early in the New Year.”
In the tense atmosphere that prevailed, the mood of anger at the meeting was briefly dissipated when a local garda was forced to address the meeting in an effort to have some cars that were causing obstruction, moved.
The new secretary of Mitchelstown Credit Union is Michael Coughlan, president is Kevin O’Flynn, vice president David Kent and the treasurer is Sean Casey. Supervisors elected at the meeting were Liam White and Patrick Kent.
Friday 19th December 1:56pm