Confirmation of an ATM in Clare is not enough – Violet-Anne Wynne TD
Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne, has said Bank of Ireland's announcement that an ATM will remain in Kilkee is dismissive of the real concerns for small businesses and the ageing population of rural towns and villages.
Teachta Wynne said:
“The announcement of Bank of Ireland branch closures three weeks ago, in the midst of a global pandemic, and just weeks after Ulster Bank announced its withdrawal from the southern market, was a huge blow to communities, particularly in Clare where three branches are to close in Tulla, Kilkee and Miltown Malbay.
“Sinn Féin support the call of the Financial Services Union for a moratorium on branch closures until the end of 2022; once this pandemic has ended, and I have written to the Minister today on the matter.
“The CEO of Retail Services with Bank of Ireland has confirmed that an ATM will remain in Kilkee, but this attempt at reassurance is simply dismissive of the real concerns for small towns and villages who are losing vital services.
“The Bank of Ireland in Tulla is to close at a time when the nearby Post Office in Broadford is also set to close.
“Miltown Malbay will not have a Bank of Ireland branch or an ATM and will have to rely on ATM’s in stores. This is not the final solution here. ATM’s are often restrictive in cash withdrawal amounts, in some areas they are frequently out of order, and they are only available during store opening hours.
“The ageing population and small businesses in rural towns and villages feel forgotten about and this further loss of services, is yet another attack on rural Ireland, and I know that many people in Clare feel this very deeply.
“Research has found that bank branch closures reduce SME lending growth by 63 percent in affected areas, rising to 104 percent when it is the last branch in the area.
“Bank of Ireland has attempted to justify closures based on a fall in branch visits over the past twelve months. This is hardly surprising given the entire population has had its movements significantly restricted in response to a public health emergency.
“In reality, the bank is using Covid-19 for cover, punishing customers for following public health regulations. This is not just a cynical move, but a slap in the face that will hurt customers, staff and communities.
“This knee-jerk reaction will leave vulnerable customers without access to essential services.
“The only conclusion I can draw is that Bank of Ireland have no regard for their customers.”