Banking on the Community, investing locally for resilience

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

Registration link and further details –

The withdrawal of Ulster Bank and the recently announced closure of 103 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 will present practical possibilities from a community perspective, and will include a question and answer session.

Speakers include Caroline Whyte, an ecological economist doing research and advocacy for FEASTA, who will address the global economic and environmental context of community banking. Seamus Maye from the Public Banking Forum of Ireland will speak about the work of the Forum and Community Banking in an Irish Context. Seamus is well-known for his work in the areas of Competition Economics, Competition Law, Company Law, Banking, Professional Negligence, Fraud and Political Reform. Seamus is founder of International Small Business Alliance and Joint Chairman of the Public Banking Forum of Ireland (PBFI).

Bridget Meehan a left activist and writer, is co-founder of the Northern Mutual campaign for a mutual bank in the north of Ireland and her topic will deal with democratising finance with mutual banking.

Green Party Spokesperson on Finance, Neasa Hourigan TD, will speak 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.

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