BELFAST (5/3/11)--Ireland's credit union movement cannot be immune from the financial crisis affecting that country, but it can meet and overcome that challenge, the president of the Irish League of Credit Unions told 1,200 credit union delegates attending the league's annual meeting last weekend in Belfast. The credit union sector would come through whatever exposure it faced in bad loans and other difficulties, league President Mark Bailey said, adding that the movement will be safer, stronger and more secure for all credit union members as a result of the challenge (The Irish Times May 2). Ireland has 498 credit union serving 2.98 million members, including 40,000 new members who joined in the past year. Credit unions have US$17.8 billion in savings, and US$8.9 billion in loans and an equal amount available to loan, Bailey said. He noted 12 credit unions have been assisted by the movement's Savings Protection Scheme (SPS), a movement-owned share deposit insurance fund. When credit unions have received SPS funds in the past, they have traded out of their difficulties, said Bailey. Also speaking was Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who said that credit unions were absolutely vital and would weather the storms. Credit unions can always be depended upon to be there at times of adversity, he said in an interview after his speech, adding that the world recession and economic circumstances mean that people will be even more dependent on credit unions. Earlier last week the league confirmed that it is in talks with the Central Bank about introducing a statutory resolution plan for the credit union sector that will ensure and support the future of credit unions (The Irish Times April 29) .