Conway-Walsh highlights rural Ireland’s exclusion from access to banking services
Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has challenged Richie Boucher CEO of Bank of Ireland around the availability of banking services in the west of Ireland. Speaking in the Finance Committee hearing today, the Mayo Sinn Féin Senator told Mr. Boucher that there were many obstacles to people in rural areas accessing banking services.
Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“Elderly customers are being turned away and told to come back another day if they want to deal face to face with a bank representative. These are people who rely on public transport and don’t have broadband. How do you intend to care for these customers, many of whom have made valuable contributions to the propping up of the banks and investments over the years? Do you feel a social obligation to those people to provide them with a human interface at branches?”
In response to the bank’s claims that many elderly customers in rural areas are very comfortable with modern technology such as mobile phones through which to conduct their personal banking, Senator Conway-Walsh responded:
“A lot of them don’t have mobile phone coverage or broadband and I would make the point that cash transactions have fallen precisely because people are being turned away from branches. A useful thing we could do for the future would be to survey elderly and rural customers to see what types of services they would like to use and if they are satisfied with their current arrangements.”
“I would urge that the Government facilitate a survey to be carried out which would encapsulate the entire spectrum of social exclusion that results from poor or non-existent broadband and mobile phone coverage.”