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18 Aug 2022

Another blow for banking customers in Leitrim

AIB

From the end of September only two bank branches in the county will offer full cash services to customers and both of those will be based in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Yesterday, (Tuesday, July 19) AIB made the shock announcement that it was changing 70 of its 170 branches to cashless operations. Included in the list of branches set to change is Ballinamore.

From September 30, Ballinamore's AIB branch, the only bank in the town, will no longer offer cash and cheque services at the counter, or through machines inside the branch.

This means that, from this date, the Ballinamore branch will not have notes, coins, cheques, offer foreign exchange, bank drafts; and will remove any drop safes and night safes.

The ATM outside the branch, the only on-street facility in the town, will also be removed as part of the changes.

The move has attracted widespread condemnation, coming on the heels of closures of Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank branches.

Last year Bank of Ireland shut its branches in Manorhamilton and Drumshanbo resulting in the loss of both town's only on-street ATMs. Both of the ATMs have since been replaced following intervention by local credit unions.

In December last year Manorhamilton's only remaining bank, AIB, ceased operating its cashier counter service, but unlike Ballinamore's branch, Manorhamilton's AIB customers can still use the bank's cash and cheque lodgement machines to deposit cash and cheques and withdraw money.

But it isn't just Leitrim affected by the changes, they also impact our neighbouring counties Longford and Donegal.

In Longford town the AIB branch on Main Street is going cashless from October 21. AIB note the nearest branch with full cash services will be Roscommon.

In Donegal, Ballyshannon branch will see changes introduced from September 30. From that date the nearest branch with full cash services will be Donegal Town.

Announcing the changes AIB said the decision has been based on “falling levels of cash usage and cheque transactions, and a rise in the popularity of non-cash alternatives such as digital and card payments.

“The cost of security and handling cash has also risen,” they noted.

They point out that, in branches changing to cashless facilities, staff will still be available to answer questions and help “customers open an account, buy a new home, take out a business or personal loan, or save or invest their money.”

Kiosk Banking and Phone Banking services will still be available at branches.

AIB also points to the expansion of a range of day-to-day banking services available through post offices.

Under the An Post deal, AIB customers will be able to withdraw up to €1,500 cash per day and lodge up to €5,000 cash per week, while businesses will be able to lodge up to €50,000 by prior agreement with the post office, while all customers will be able to lodge euro cheques into their accounts. Paying bills and foreign exchange will also be available through An Post.

However local politicians have described the changes as a 'terrible blow' for customers.

Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council, Cllr Ita Reynolds-Flynn said that she was shocked by the news and deeply concerned about the impact of the changes in towns like Ballinamore.

Cllr Caillian Ellis said it was a “terrible blow” pointing out that “these banks were saved by the taxpayers and now they are taking away services at their branches. This is simply not good enough,” he said.

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