Politicians in Tipperary have hit out at the planned closure of three Bank of Ireland branches in the county labelling the proposal a severe blow to rural communities.
Labour leader Alan Kelly has said that the announcement of so many branch closures by Bank of Ireland will rip the heart out of the towns and called for the Central Bank and government to intervene.
He said:“There is no doubt that Bank of Ireland is exploiting the Covid-19 crisis to drive down its costs. The bank’s ruthlessly opportunistic plans to cull 88 branches in towns across the country will have an even more severe and direct impact on the fabric of our towns and villages, following on from the recent announcement that Ulster Bank plans to withdraw from Ireland.
“This will have a huge impact on the towns of Templemore, Cahir and Cashel where branches will be closed.
“Physical bank branches are intrinsic to the commercial and social life of main street Ireland but it seems that this is a factor of limited interest to the Central Bank of Ireland as the regulator. Experience tells us that once a local bank branch is gone it will never return. In the case of Bank of Ireland the fact is that many of the branches in the firing line are the last ones standing in their locality.
“In Ireland, financial institutions are required under a 2012 Code of Practice for consumers to provide a two-month period of notice to customers and to the regulator if any changes are being planned to branch operations but in the UK they must give 12 months, and meaningfully engage and consult with affected customers and communities where closures are under consideration.
“We are calling on Bank of Ireland to pause this and not use the Covid-19 pandemic to make such devastating changes.
“Every person living in a community impacted by this will be horrified by the news this morning that Bank of Ireland is pulling out of our communities. These branches provide a focal point not just for everyday banking but wider community itself. These closures will change the face of our towns, and the impact will be seen on our main streets, felt by family businesses and I am gravely worried about the impact this will have locally.
“I’m calling on the Minister for Finance to intervene and put a stay on these proposed closures. The ordinary workers in our towns saved the banks, it is incumbent on banks not to abandon these people now.
"The Central Bank is asleep at the wheel in allowing these closures. It is not just logging into current accounts. It is the commercial relationship between local businesses and the local bank manager. It is the link for local sports teams and community activities. This is an attack on provincial towns in particular and must be resisted in full," he added.
Three Bank of Ireland branches in Tipperary are set to close later in the year following an announcement from BOI this morning that the number of networks nationally will reduce by 103.
Branches in Cahir, Cashel and Templemore will close from September. The remaining six branches in Carrick on Suir, Nenagh, Clonmel, Thurles, Tipperary Town and Roscrea are unaffected.
According to a statement from BOI, the changes are "in response to significant trends in how people are banking."
Cashel based TD Martin Browne said the decision was a blow to many people who are not in a position to deal with online banking.
“Bank of Ireland’s decision to close its Cashel, Cahir and Templemore branches shows how the bank, which increased its charges for customers at the end of last year, has failed all of the communities that supported it over the years.
"It will have a further impact on the level of footfall on many of the main streets in the towns targeted."
“Cashel, Cahir and Templemore will feel the brunt of this decision and my thoughts are with the employees who face an uncertain future."
“While the bank has said that there will be the option of redeployment, family commitments or personal circumstances many prevent many from doing so. Instead, there are many individuals and families in Co Tipperary whose hearts have dropped at this blow," he added.