LIFFORD Credit Union has taken over the former Ulster Bank building in Raphoe.
It is five years since the banking giant shut its branch in The Diamond.
Now the local Credit Union is gearing up to renovate and extend the vacated premises and relocate from Meetinghouse Street.
Expressions of interest are being sought from contractors to completely refurbish the building’s ground floor while also adding and extending the upper floor.
Credit Unions have become increasingly busy in recent years following the gradual departure from the market of institutions like Ulster Bank and KBC.
But Raphoe Credit Union Management Team member Paul Brolly said it was not necessarily bank closures driving up member numbers.
“We have grown massively over these last few years but I wouldn’t say it is being driven by bank closures, it is more about a greater confidence in credit unions.
“Credit unions topped the league table for the best customer experience in the CXi Awards for a record eighth year in a row in 2022. That is unheard of around the world,” said Mr Brolly.
Lifford Credit Union has three offices in Lifford, Raphoe, and Newtowncunningham. Such has been the rise in Raphoe’s membership that it now opens six days a week.
Staff have already been recruited for the new Raphoe facility and will relocate from the other offices once it opens.
The expectation is that the old Ulster Bank building will be in operation by late summer or early autumn.
As things stand there are no banks within Lifford Credit Union Ltd’s common bond area which reaches from Castlefinn to Convoy, Raphoe, Ballindrait, Lifford, St Johnston, Carrigans, Killea, Newtowncunningham and Manorcunningham and all areas in between.
For that reason the expansion of Raphoe Credit Union is likely to come as a relief for people in terms of handling their financial affairs and the services and products that will be available.
“It will make us more visible in the town and with this type of investment, our members will learn that we are here for the long haul,” said Paul Brolly.
“We did look at other properties but there was nothing really suitable.
When the old bank came up we seized the opportunity and now we are looking forward to a new and exciting chapter in the life of Lifford Credit Union in the Raphoe area.”