The closure of more than a third of the Bank of Ireland’s branches is another step in the “erosion” of business in rural Ireland, a former company director said.
A total of 88 branches last closed on Friday, with the bank saying the move is due to it having reached a “tipping point” between online and offline activities.
When announcing the decision in March, she said that footfall at branches selected for closure had fallen by 60% on average between 2017 and last year, and that her mobile phone app was now her “channel. most frequented “, with 430,000 users logging in every day. .
The bank’s branch in Mitchelstown was one of those that closed and Ben Lynch, who ran it from 1994 to 2002, believes the development will be a “blow” to the city of Co Cork and many others. ‘others.
“It might not be that important if you are in town and there is another branch on the road, but it is a continuation of the erosion of a lot of businesses in rural Ireland.” , did he declare.
“I just don’t like the logic of closing a branch in a city of this size. There are three main banks in Mitchelstown – AIB, Bank of Ireland and (Permanent) TSB.
“After the demise of Bank of Ireland today, TSB is a shell – there is no personal service. So you end up with just one full-service bank in a city of this size. There are a lot of online banking services out there, but there are times when you need to talk to a human being and go.
In addition to online and phone options, Bank of Ireland and An Post have reached an agreement which it says will “protect local access to over-the-counter banking services.” Customers can now make deposits and withdrawals at hundreds of post offices.
However, the charity Age Action Ireland has criticized the closures, saying older people prefer the independence of going to their local bank branch.
He said that with this choice removed in many places, there was a higher risk of elder abuse as people who were unable to travel or use online services would have to entrust their financial affairs. to relatives, neighbors and friends.
In Co Cork, the Bantry branch also goes, which means customers in the city have to go to either Skibbereen 28km away or Kenmare 44km away if they want to visit their bank. The Dunmanway outlet is also expected to close.
Fine Gael senator Tim Lombard said the move was a “slap in the face” for the people who have kept the banks in business for decades and a huge loss to residents.
Deirdre O’Brien, an advisor to Fianna Fáil based in Mitchelstown, said she expected the branch to close permanently after its temporary closure during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s a disaster for the city – a loss of service but also a loss for its economy.”
The Financial Services Union said it was a sad day for staff and customers and called on the Central Bank to open a consultation on access to cash following the widespread closings.
“Despite opposition between parties in Dáil and Stormont and across large sections of the community, Bank of Ireland has continued on the path of eroding its footprint and removing vital services from communities across our country. “, its Secretary General John O’Connell mentioned.
He said removing ATMs means people living in some communities will no longer have access to 24/7 cash from next week.
“Our banking sector is at a crossroads and needs a commitment from the Central Bank so that the banking network does not disappear and that it is proactive in ensuring that communities and vulnerable people are no longer hit hard.” , did he declare.
Branches were closed in 25 counties in the Republic and 15 closures also took place in Northern Ireland.
Dublin lost branches in the Law Library, James Street, Phibsborough, Ballycoolin, Killester, Merrion Road, Rathmines and Ballyfermot.
Limerick has seen closures at Askeaton, Abbeyfeale, Bruff, Caherdavin, Rathkeale, Roxboro and the University of Limerick.
Nine Bank of Ireland branches across the Midlands have closed with three outlets each in Laois, Offaly and Westmeath shutting down for good.
Cork has also lost nine branches while Donegal loses five. Three Bank of Ireland branches in Kerry have closed, with the closest BOI branch to Castleisland now 17.5 km away in Tralee.
In Mayo, the bank’s closure in Ballyhaunis means locals will have to travel around 20 km to Claremorris or Castlerea to access a BOI branch.
A total of 169 branches of the Bank of Ireland will remain open.