DUBLIN (5/16/08)--The growth in size and influence of the Irish credit union movement during the past five decades stands in testimony to the abilities of its executives and dedication of its members. That was the message conveyed by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Chairman Melvin Edwards last month at the Irish League of Credit Unions' (ILCU) annual general meeting and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Irish credit union movement. "The impressive growth and expansion of the Irish movement over the past 50 years to a membership of some three million is indeed worthy of celebration,” said Edwards, director of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions. Edwards and Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO, joined 1,500 delegates from 365 Irish credit unions in Dublin. The tremendous efforts of those associated with the movement can take credit for the success of Ireland’s credit unions, according to ILCU President Uel Adair. The extended anniversary celebration also will include commemorate stamps in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the launch of a country-wide marketing campaign, and the May 22 inaugural Nora Herlihy Memorial Lecture by global anti-poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof, who was instrumental in organizing Live Aid for famine relief in Africa. Herily ran Ireland's first credit union. The league's National Advertising Campaign aims to clarify the credit union difference for Ireland's four million population. A new Credit Union Practice Training Program, developed by ILCU in partnership with the University of Ulster contains 14 credit union-specific modules designed to increase workplace capabilities and improve service to members. “World Council's participation in these commemorative events is more than mere recognition of Ireland's immense contribution to international credit union development and to the strength of WOCCU itself,” Edwards said. “The programs also anticipate ILCU’s accelerated progress in surmounting current regulatory and other challenges and initiating the Irish movement’s next phase of strategic transformation."