Ireland's President Michael D. Higgins will mark the International Year of Co-operatives in a national conference today.
Joining the country's President will be Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, and over 200 Irish industry and public sector leaders along with Research & Innovation Minister Sean Sherlock.
This event at Croke Park, Dublin, has come about through an alliance of the three major co-operative groupings in Ireland — the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS), NABCO (the National Association of Building Co-operatives) and the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU).
The national conference will be chaired by economist David McWilliams. It will address 'The Way Forward' for co-operative enterprise and will identify how co-operative developments can contribute to the renewal and recovery of the economy, the growth of indigenous enterprises, sustainable jobs creation on a regional and national basis and the overall future competitiveness of Ireland.
A statement from the organisations said: "In this United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, the establishment of new indigenous co-operative businesses has an important role to play in the growth of our economy for the future. There are opportunities for development and expansion by co-operatives that are market focused, well governed and strategic in their business development ambitions."
Seamus O’Donohoe, Chief Executive, ICOS, commented: “Ireland has a long and proud tradition of co-operative enterprise. As a sector we must share and widely promote the key attributes that have contributed to the success of co-operatives enterprises in Ireland. Moreover, we must grasp this occasion to further advance and strengthen the business of co-operation for the future.”
Declan Hudson, Chairman, NABCO, said: “Co-operative enterprise has a vital role to play in Ireland’s social and economic renewal. This event provides the opportunity to recognise and support the contribution that co-operatives make through local democratic control of social and commercial enterprise to strengthening the communities in which they are based.”
Kieron Brennan, CEO, Irish League of Credit Unions, added: “2012 provides the opportunity for all co-operatives to actively highlight to their members, customers and their communities at large, the essential role that co-ops have to play in stimulating economic growth and societal well-being across Ireland for the future. We look forward to playing our part in promoting this agenda,”
The CEOs of ICOS, NABCO and the League of Credit Unions will highlight the role of their organisations and show what co-ops have already achieved during the day. They will also explore the challenges and opportunities for the future of co-operation in Ireland.
Other international experts who will address the conference include Peter Couchman, (Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation in Oxford), David Rodgers (President of ICA Housing) and Prof Gert van Dijk (Co-operative expert from the Netherlands and former President of COGECA – the organisation representing European agricultural and fishing co-ops). Other speakers are Jimmy Johnstone, President, Irish League of Credit Unions and Brian Branch, President, World Council of Credit Unions.