It was something the community suspected may happen but last week’s confirmation that the Ulster Bank sub-branch in Carrigallen will close as part of the latest round of cutbacks, has been met with anger by local residents.
Carrigallen is one of 22 branches and sub branches across the Republic and Northern Ireland set to close its doors and the resulting move will leave the south Leitrim town without any banking facilities. The nearest Ulster Bank branch will now be located in Arva.
Local residents have said they are extremely disappointed with the news with many pointing out that vulnerable members of the community, in particular the elderly, will find it difficult to access banking facilities once the closure comes into effect. Businesses have also expressed anger at the move.
The Republic of Ireland branches set to close are: Belturbet (Co Cavan), Castlepollard (Co Westmeath); Glenamaddy (Co Galway), Killeshandra (Co Cavan) and Kilnaleck (Co Cavan), together with the following sub-offices: Carrigallen (Co Cavan), Delvin (Co Westmeath), Kilcormac (Co Offaly), Kilkelly (Co Mayo), Rathangan (Co Kildare) and Swanlinbar (Co Cavan).
IBOA The Finance Union has expressed disappointment at the closures. General Secretary, Larry Broderick, said that, even though speculation had been mounting in recent weeks, the announcement will raise a number of concerns for both customers and staff in these areas.
“Staff throughout Ulster Bank have worked strenuously to restore the Bank’s reputation,” said the IBOA leader, “especially in the wake of the catastrophic IT malfunction last year - which created major difficulties for hundreds of thousands of customers. They are naturally concerned about any developments that might undermine customer confidence.”
IBOA will be meeting members in the affected locations as well as the Bank’s senior management in the coming days to ensure that all such closures are conducted as smoothly as possible for customers and staff.
“Apart from the inconvenience which this development will cause to the customers of Ulster Bank in the affected locations,” said Mr Broderick, “there is a more worrying dimension in terms of the provision of banking services in rural areas.
“AIB is in the process of closing around 70 branches. Danske Bank (formerly National Irish Bank and Northern Bank) has shut down its entire retail branch network in the Republic of Ireland while Bank of Ireland is reducing services in over 43 locations.
“While each Bank makes decisions in its own narrow interest, no-one, it seems, is considering the bigger picture - and particularly the impact on many rural areas - where even the lesser alternative of online or mobile banking may be difficult due to connectivity problems.”
IBOA is seeking a meeting with the Minister for Finance to discuss future banking strategy for Ireland.