Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.40 13 May 2020


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A councillor in Cork says introducing a local currency could complement the euro and help communities recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.

The local council in Cork City has been asked to look into a local currency introduced in Bristol in England after the last recession.

The so-called 'Bristol Pound' was introduced as part of efforts to encourage people and businesses to buy locally.

Hundreds of local businesses accept the currency, which exists alongside the sterling and is a purely voluntary alternative to the national currency.

Colette Finn, Green Party Councillor for Cork City, said the idea of a 'cooperative currency' is something that should be given consideration here.

Cork councillor says local currency could 'complement the euro' as city recovers from COVID-19 crisis

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She explained: "This is on foot of a question I asked Cork City Council... asking them to maybe look at [the Bristol idea] as we recover from the close-down and COVID-19.

"Part of the problem is that as people lose access to the normal currency, you then have to come up with innovative ideas about how you match unused resources with needs."

Cllr Finn said that trust is the key aspect in any such local currency.

She observed: "You basically have to know who you're dealing with in order to make these things a success, so they're underpinned by local government and often a public bank, credit union or something like that."

Cllr Finn said there are thousands of such currencies around the world, designed to help local communities where there are cashflow problems.

On the prospect of introduce such a currency in Cork, she stressed: "It's not trying to replace the euro - it's about a complementary currency, basically for the time period where people lose their jobs or lose access to paid work.

"Part of the problem about the financial system is the extent to which the money is being sucked up to the top of the system, and there literally isn't enough permeating down to the centre.

"It's about trying to get that mechanism going where people who have skills and talents and want to do things... are given an option to be able to do those things."

She stressed there's no suggestion that a community should have their own currency exclusively, but instead said there's simply a call for local governments to consider mechanisms to ensure communities survive through difficult times.

The Evening Echo reports that Cork City Council has played down the prospect of a local currency, but stressed that all options to kickstart the local economy are worth considering.

Main image: File photo of Cork city. Picture by: Leah Bignell/Zuma Press/PA Images

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