SOCIAL BANK

Website: www.clanncredo.ie

In its edition of 7th March 2009, the Tablet wrote about Clann Credo, a social bank established by the Presentation Sisters:

A Catholic bank in Ireland set up by nuns claims it is weathering the recession because of its ethical approach to business. As banks and credit unions across the country continue to suffer dramaticdownturns in the face of economic turmoil, the Dublin-based Clann Credo says it has encountered no problems over the past few months. It says it invests only in ethically credible companies and lent seven million euros (£6.2m) to charities last year.

Set up by the Presentation Sisters in 1996, it has funded more than 2OO community and voluntary projects in Ireland. Its revenue is derived from contributions from more than 2O Religious congregations and from the Government’s 25-million euro (£22.3m) seed-capital fund for social projects.

Clann Credo’s stability is now being hailed as a model for ethical investment by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), a coalition of British and Irish Churches and other groups. “One thing this crisis has shown is the volatility of the non-ethical mainstream,” said ECCR coordinator Myles Litvinof.

By its own description, Clan Credo is “the leading provider of social finance to community-based projects in Ireland“. It is a not-for-profit organisation that “provides repayable finance to community and voluntary organisations and charities that find it difficult to access funding from mainstream financial institutions. All projects are evaluated on their potential to make a social as well as a financial return.”

Pointing to the short-term nature of much financial activity, Mr Litvinof urged investors to learn from Clann Credo. “If more people investing are conscious of sustainability, we are going to get fewer of these [economic] crises,” he said. “This is an opportunity to get people to redirect savings; with faith communities in particular, it’s time to think about the long term.”

Meanwhile, Ireland’s most senior Catholic churchmen have expressed concern that irresponsible and destructive behaviour in the corporate world have damaged the fabric of society and brought the world economy to a dangerous and uncertain state. Speaking at the Pro Cathedral in Dublin on Sunday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that individual bad behaviour led to a negative trend which was socially destructive. “When individuals lose a sense of integrity in their own lives, their destructive behaviour begins to negatively influence society with consequences especially for the weakest. This is what we see in the economic crisis,” said the archbishop.

The same day, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, hit out at reckless choices and bad judgement that had brought the world economy to a dangerous and uncertain state. The Archbishop of Armagh made his comments as he formally launched Trocaire’s Lenten campaign in County Louth. Calling on the Irish public to support the aid agency, Cardinal Brady said: “We need to have the generosity to address the extreme poverty in developing countries at the same time as addressing the scandal of continuing poverty in our own society.”

[Written by Paul Keenan and Sarah MacDonald for The Tablet]