OFFALY environmental campaigner Tom Roche has closed his Tullamore Credit Union account in protest against its association with a classic car convoy.

Gearoid Keegan

27 May 2023 9:01 AM



RETRO Cannonball is sponsored by Tullamore Credit Union and started in Wexford on Friday morning and will finish at the Credit Union on Patrick Street at 6pm this evening (Saturday, May 27).

Tullamore Credit Union chair Liam O’Callaghan said the convoy is coinciding with the credit union’s 60th anniversary and described it as a fun-filled family event, with lots of excitement and spectacle, giving people a great opportunity to come together as a community.

Mr Roche, who has been highlighting the link between the fossil fuel industry and climate change for many years, wrote to Mr O’Callaghan telling him he was closing the credit union account he had for 60 years.

His letter said: “As a vehicle for local community support Tullamore Credit Union has a great record. Personally, as a long-time member of Tullamore Credit Union, I am very grateful for the great financial support Tullamore Credit Union has provided to me since I joined in 1965.

“Tullamore Credit Union was there for me when I received my first loan of £100. That loan enabled me to emigrate to Australia, at the age of eighteen, under the Australian Government’s ‘Assisted Passage Scheme’ in September 1967. Then when I returned and started my own furniture-making business in The Tanyard in 1974, Tullamore Credit Union was there to help me get going. And again, when that business failed due in part to my many years of alcohol addiction, Tullamore Credit Union was there to help me get on my feet again.

“As you know we are in a climate emergency and as you are a former executive with the Midland Health Board I thought you would be the first person to see the public health implications of combustion engines burning fossil fuels.

“I believe Tullamore Credit Union’s decision to sponsor the classic car convoy of ‘Retro Cannonball’ is irresponsible. Over one hundred vehicles will converge on Tullamore Town centre, spewing copious amounts of known carcinogenic fumes into the air. Apart from being a public health issue, I believe, it undermines the great efforts by Tullamore Credit Union members who have made significant investments in electric vehicles, solar panels and retrofitting their homes to make them more energy-efficient in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint and hand on a more liveable planet to their offspring.

“Unlike the 1960’s, ‘70’s, and ‘80’s our local community is vastly different. The multi-cultural nature of our local community today is made up of migrants from all corners of the globe. Many of our new inhabitants are here because of war, conflict and economic hardships in their own countries.

“People migrate for all sorts of reasons. But at least 20 million have been migrating each year since 2008 as a result of climate change alone”, according to Diarmuid Torney, an expert on climate change at Dublin City University (The Sunday Times, May 21, 2023.) The burning of fossil fuels in combustion engines is a major contributor to climate change.

“As reported in mainstream media over the weekend, at least 250,000 people had to flee their homes after heavy rainfalls in the Somalia and Ethiopian highlands which led to devastating floods never before seen in the region. This comes on top of the regions worst drought in forty years. We are speeding towards complete environmental catastrophe. Just yesterday I spoke to my sister Nuala who lives in Calgary where a state of emergency has been declared as wildfires rage across Alberta. All inhabitants of Calgary have been advised to remain indoors to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes.”

Mr Roche, a native of Chapel Street, Tullamore who now lives in Rhode, referred in his letter to an excerpt from the Tullamore Credit Union website: ‘Created in 1963 by the local community for the local community. Our members are at the heart of all we do, so we are constantly striving to improve our products and services.’

He said: “The above statement taken from your website is at odds with today’s climate emergency. Your failure to take the climate emergency seriously and act accordingly has prompted me to re-examine my relationship with Tullamore Credit Union. In solidarity with communities in the Horn of Africa impacted by our continued over-use of fossil fuels I have decided to end my almost 60 years membership of Tullamore Credit Union by closing my account with immediate effect. Those who have contributed least to the climate crisis are suffering the most while Ireland still plays. The real culprit according to the most recent IPCC report is the fossil fuel industry.”


Source: Offaly EXPRESS

Media Contact

 Craig Easdown, Media & Communications Manager, Cricket Ireland

+353 85 804 7696 |

 Ian McClure, McClure Media & PR, representing Certa

+353 87 28 30 600 |