Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District’s councillors have resolved to write to the Minister for Finance calling on him to intervene to stop Allied Irish Bank from reducing its Fethard branch to a machine-only outlet with no manned counter service.
The District’s councillors are also penning a letter to AIB appealing to the bank to reverse its decision to cut banking services at the branch that serves a wide rural hinterland as well as Fethard town.
Fine Gael Senator Garret Ahearn also criticised the downgrading of AIB’s Fethard branch in the Seanad in the past week and also called on the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to intervene. Carrick Municipal District’s councillors unanimously decided to voice their opposition to this latest scaling back of banking services in county Tipperary at Carrick-on-Suir MD’s September meeting last Thursday.
Fethard is one of 17 AIB branches throughout the country that will be losing their manned counter service and night safe and drop safe service from October 26 onwards.
The Fethard AIB branch will be left with cash and cheque lodgement machines, kiosk banking and phone banking.
The reduction in banking services the branch provides is due to come into effect from December 6.
Mullinahone Cllr Kevin O’Meara called at the meeting for a letter to be sent to the Minister for Finance seeking his intervention to stop this reduction in bank services in Fethard.
“It shouldn’t be allowed happen that these facilities are dropped from rural towns and villages.
“As a District we should do everything in our power to ensure these facilities are kept,” the Independent councillor declared.
Carrick MD Chairman Cllr Mark Fitzgerald from Cloneen described it as a “wicked blow” to businesses not just in Fethard but in Killenaule, which lost its bank branch a number of years ago, and in rural communities like Moyglass, Drangan, Cloneen and Ballingarry.
The Fine Gael councillor proposed that they also write to AIB.
“We should do our best to send out a message that we are not accepting this. It’s very unfair the pressure it’s putting on people who use that bank daily.”
Ballingarry Cllr Imelda Goldsboro highlighted that the AIB branch in Callan in county Kilkenny was also to suffer the same fate as Fethard.
This branch was used by many AIB customers living in Mullinahone and Ballingarry areas. This would have a big impact on elderly customers and people with no transport.
The Fianna Fáil councillor pointed out that if people in all the communities impacted by the reduction in services at Fethard and Callan have to travel to Clonmel to do their banking, then the “footfall” for shops in those towns will also drop.
She said the residents of the Fethard and the rural communities in its hinterland need to make their opposition to this heard. She noted there were three AIB branches in this region, the third being Lisduggan in Waterford, earmarked for this reduction in services and if they made their voices heard it could force AIB to reverse its decision.
Speaking in the Seanad, Fine Gael Senator Garret Ahearn said a manned counter banking service was vital to the people of Fethard and its loss was “devastating “ for the town.
“Businesses use these services on a daily basis and the bank has a large customer base due to the closure of these services in nearby branches. Additionally, there are some older people who have difficulty using the machines and have always used the counter service.
“There are so many businesses in that area who use that branch as their local branch and they’re now being asked to use Clonmel.”
Citing the closure of Killenaule’s bank a few years ago, he said bank customers were now required to travel about 30km to avail of the banking services they need.
“This is happening throughout the country and is having a detrimental impact on rural areas throughout the country. Something needs to be done at ministerial level.”
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