McNamara criticises Bank of Ireland closures

Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara says Bank of Ireland’s decision to close its branches in Kilkee, Miltown Malbay and Tulla and at 85 other locations throughout the Republic of Ireland underpins the financial sector’s push towards online banking at the expense of many people in rural Ireland.

“While I acknowledge that many people now do some of their banking online, there is a considerable number of people, in particular the elderly, but also small business owners, who rely heavily on over-the-counter and personal transactions,” explained Deputy McNamara. “In making this decision, the Bank of Ireland is abandoning those who have shown a lifetime of loyalty to the company and it is also overlooking those who simply do not feel comfortable going online.”

Deputy McNamara said it is “disingenuous” of Bank of Ireland to cite decreased footfall over the past 12 months for the closure announcement considering the restrictions on movement imposed by lockdowns.

He continued, “These closures will have a particular impact in towns and villages where there is no ATM. In Tulla for example, I requested Bank of Ireland to provide an ATM in the town but was told that it would not be possible due to the prohibitive cost of doing so. There is an ATM in the local Supervalu, but withdrawal limits are in place here and access is restricted by the outlet’s opening hours. It is important that ATM facilities in Kilkee and Miltown Malbay are maintained to enable people to lodge and withdraw cash, while I would ask Bank of Ireland to review the provision of such a service in Tulla.”

Deputy McNamara criticised Tánaiste Leo Varadkar for his response to concerns raised over the future of Clare branches.

He added, “In a recent Dáil reply to my question, the Tánaiste displayed a lack of understanding of the impact the closures will have on some sections of the community. The Government has a 15% stake in Bank of Ireland and a number of Government departments and state agencies have accounts with the Bank of Ireland and therefore, the Government can and should be doing more to influence the bank in its decision making which it clearly hasn’t even attempted to do here.”

Deputy McNamara stated, “The State delayed investment in education and health for over a decade to bail out the banks with taxpayer’s money and therefore, the closure of 88 branches in the Republic of Ireland will be seen as a poor return for our collective investment.”

Commenting on Bank of Ireland’s partnership with An Post which will enable its customers able to access 32 Post Office locations across Clare for their banking, cash and lodgement needs, Deputy McNamara said, “This is good news but is a service that I have been calling for long before the branch closures. I would be concerned that this service could be undermined by An Post’s ongoing review of its network which is highlighted by its recent decision to close the Post Office in Broadford.”