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“We could be witnessing an end to Rural Banking” - McKay

3 July, 2013

Sinn Féin MLA and Chairperson of the Assembly Finance Committee, Daithí McKay, has claimed that we could be witnessing the end to rural banking following the latest revelations by Ulster Bank.

Daithi McKay said:

“The announcement yesterday by Ulster Bank could a precursor to the eventual end to traditional rural banking. The Finance Committee today agreed to my recommendation that we reconvene over the summer in order to question Ulster Bank on the recent announcement of further branch closures and job losses. I believe that in these circumstances rural branches are the most vulnerable.

"It is an absolute disgrace that Ulster Bank staff had to learn of these job cuts through the media. RBS should hang its head in shame for its handling of this situation by making a presentation to investors rather than making staff and unions their first priority.

"I have spoken with Ulster Bank representatives today and told them that they must think outside the box. They must not take the easy option by shutting down rural banks across the country. They need to explore rural service provision and not simply assume that everyone can or will convert to Internet banking. Given the IT failures of last year Ulster Bank in particular should be aware of many peoples’ reluctance to move away from face to face banking.

"It has also been revealed that First Trust will be closing its branch in Ballymoney, the second branch closure there in recent months. This is part of a continuing trend where all the major banks are closing rural branches in villages and small towns.

"Rural customers are being taken for granted. Of course the Ulster Bank wants to return to profit but it should have, at the very least, consulted with those affected. This is even more pertinent given the fact that the bank indicated in January of this year that there would be no more jobs losses.

"Ulster Bank will now come before the Finance Committee for the third time in a year to answer questions and to provide some clarity in regard to where jobs will be lost and which branches are earmarked for closure. We will also be seeking an explanation for why Ulster Bank and RBS continue to treat their staff and customers so shabbily."

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