Thursday, September 27 14:19:53
ICOS, the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society has called on the Government to bring forward legislation that would help the Irish co-operative movement to contribute more meaningfully to economic recovery and renewal.
"As a nation, we risk being totally distracted and demoralised by our economic woes when many of the mechanisms for our wellbeing can be found in our own hands and from within our own communities," said ICOS Chief Executive Seamus O'Donohoe.
He said that, in Ireland, this potential remains largely untapped partly due to the lack of understanding of the sector among policy makers, banks and business interests.
"The Government itself is sitting on a golden opportunity to revamp legislation that would promote the growth of co-operative businesses and social enterprises in Ireland. Clearly defined legislation will stimulate further economic development by this important industry sector. The economic situation is going to have a long term impact on societal wellbeing. The State's ability to invest in current and future service delivery will continue to be constrained for many years ahead and new approaches to this problem must be promoted throughout society if Ireland is to maintain the high standard of living and overall quality of life that we all aspire to," he added.
"While the Government is rightly preoccupied with managing the country's finances and public expenditure, it must also now pursue a legislative and policy agenda designed to stimulate community based co-operative enterprise, local services delivery and economic growth."
"2012 is the UN International Year of Co-operatives. The significance of the co-operative movement internationally indicates that the co-operative model could play a far greater role in a social context in Ireland, in areas such as consumer retailing, childcare, elder care, education, healthcare and banking. There is a striking disparity between Ireland and other countries in the sectors where co-operative businesses have flourished. This needs to be addressed to facilitate the future growth and development of modern day co-operative businesses."
Mr O'Donoghue added that the co-operative business model must benefit from the same opportunities and privileges currently available to investor owned companies under company law. The Government has promised it would legislate to do this but there is no sign of it being pursued with any sense of purpose.