Table of Contents

Guest Editorial - Issues and challenges for Irish co-operatives

Bridget Carroll and Olive McCarthy, pp. 3-5

Peer review articles    

A New Epoch for Community Renewable Energy Co-operatives in Ireland? An Exploration of the Factors Influencing their Development

Gerard Doyle, pp. 7-23

This paper outlines the capacities required for community groups to successfully establish and maintain renewable energy co-operatives in Ireland. It finds that community groups that successfully establish renewable energy co-operatives must possess high levels of resilience, have access to technical expertise, and have appropriate finance. It also highlights how it is crucial that at least one member of each renewable energy co-operative engages with state agencies and the community. Pringle’s (2015) theoretical framework applied in this paper focuses on the capacities required for the successful implementation of community renewable energy projects (which include community renewable energy co-operatives) in rural settings. Although this is a robust framework, when applied to Irish communities it may require some modification to detail the capacities required to successfully implement renewable energy co-operatives. Urban communities, particularly marginalised communities, may not possess the same level of expertise as rural communities. The theoretical framework could be broadened to acknowledge the critical importance of the amount of volunteer time that is required to ensure that a renewable energy co-operative becomes operational.

Legitimising Mutuality in Public Discourse: Exploring Parliamentary Debates on Credit Unions in Ireland, 1959-1999

Anita Mangan, pp. 25-37

How did credit unions in Ireland move from the margins to become a nationally recognised movement? More generally, how do co-operatives promote their economic and organisational models in the public sphere? This article examines the importance of having a supportive legislative environment to enable co-operative development. It does this by exploring Irish parliamentary debates on credit unions between 1959 and 1999, including the lobbying for and debates about the Credit Union Act, 1966, and the revised Credit Union Act, 1997. The article traces the shift in public debate from advocacy in the early years of the credit union movement to a more complex mixture of advocacy and critique in later decades. The article offers three contributions. First, not only is legislation important for helping the credit unions to grow, the wider debates about legislation play a crucial legitimising role. Second, the paper demonstrates a relatively rare example of successful lobbying by community activists. Finally, it underscores the importance of training and education in order to maintain public awareness of the co-operative economic and organisational model.

Short papers

From Tenants to Members: The Case for Co-operative Social Housing 

Fiona Dunkin, pp. 39-41

Think Pieces

Tackling ‘Them and Us’: Co-operative Health and Member Engagement in Changing Times 

James Doyle, pp. 43-48

This article has been provided by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society Limited (ICOS). As a unifying umbrella body for the co-operative movement in Ireland, ICOS provides vision, leadership, and value to its members. Those members span a wide spectrum of sectors — demonstrating how the co-operative idea has and continues to serve and solve the challenges of livelihood and life. ICOS uses its collective voice to put the needs of the co-operative movement and its member co-operatives to the forefront of what it does. To that end, ICOS draws upon the pioneering, innovative, and tenacious spirit of its founding members to help strengthen co-operatives operating in today’s ever changing and competitive world. This article aims to address a significant modern challenge to the core co-operative dynamic between co-operatives and the people who sustain and depend on them.

Co-operatives in Northern Ireland: Resisting the Neoliberal Peace?

Eleonore Perrin, pp. 49-52

Post-peace agreement Northern Ireland offers a perfect example of an economic recovery driven by capital accumulation instead of long-term social needs. The result is an increasingly vulnerable environment where neoliberal economic policies leave many communities behind. For those, the peace dividends promised at the beginning of the peace process have far from materialised (Knox, 2016). Left to fend for themselves, some have looked towards alternative economics to sustain decent employment and foster ways of living with dignity. Even then, we are left wondering whether social economics can be co-opted into diverting the responsibility for economic recovery away from political and economic elites. Yet, in this “toxic mix of neoliberalism and sectarianism” (Murtagh & McFerran, 2015, p. 1598), can collective economic practices forge a way towards resisting the violence of the neoliberal peace?

A Systems Approach to Irish Co-operatives in Ireland

Norman Rides, pp. 53-54

How are Ireland’s Credit Unions Coping with the Pandemic?

Olive McCarthy, pp. 55-56

Book Reviews  

Civilising Rural Ireland: The Co-operative Movement, Development and the Nation-State, 1889-1939. By Patrick Doyle

Reviewed by Ray O’Connor, pp. 57-59

Creative Commons License
All works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, subject to a 6-month embargo from date of publication in the Journal

UK Society for Co-operative Studies is registered in England and Wales as a charitable incorporated organisation Number 1175295. Our registered office is Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AS.
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