Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has described today’s Bank of Ireland branch closures as the wrong decision which will have serious consequences for customers, staff and the wider community.
The bank’s branches at Tulla, Kilkee and Miltown Malbay are among 88 nationally which will close their doors today for the last time.
The move was announced last March by the bank, as part of a move towards online services following a drop in the number of people visiting branches. Some transactions are now available through the post office.
Deputy Wynne said: “The Bank of Ireland branch closures taking place today are the wrong decision and will come as a huge blow not only for customers and for staff but also for the wider community. Here in Clare we know that three Bank of Ireland (BOI) branches in Kilkee, Tulla and Milltown Malbay today. My thoughts are with all the staff affected by this deeply upsetting news.”
“I am deeply concerned that this decision will leave vulnerable customers without access to essential services. It is vital that these services are protected so that all customers can access them fairly and locally, instead of facing long journeys to complete their banking. Not all customers are able to access their banking online and banks have a responsibility to ensure that they can meet customers’ needs to ensure fair access.
“Today’s closures will further damage communities that have already been economically left behind by government policy over the past decade. 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.
Deputy Wynne continued: “The government must not sit idly by and allow these closures to continue. The government must stand up for local communities and make it clear to the Bank of Ireland that these closures must stop. The Minister for Finance is a major shareholder in Bank of Ireland, while the Government is charged with consumer protection. They have a responsibility to do all they can to put the interests of customers and communities first.
“The taxpayer poured €4.7 billion into Bank of Ireland during the financial crisis – the least the Irish people deserve from the bank is respect. It is true that banking is changing and that is why Sinn Féin have called on the establishment of a Future of Banking Forum to discuss issues such as banking in a digital age, and how banks can best respond to serve customers and communities that rely on their services.
“The Bank of Ireland must immediately reverse these closures and halt any further planned closures. Sinn Féin will stand up for communities in Clare and ensure that these important services remain in place,” Ms Wynne added.