Members of Carrick-on-Shannon Municipal District have labelled the actions of Bank of Ireland in closing its branches in Mohill and Drumshanbo for the past three months as “absolutely disgraceful.”
The stinging criticism from the local councillors came lat last Monday's meeting of the municipal district, ironically, on the same day that Bank of Ireland announced the limited re-opening of the two branches in question.
The branches in both towns as well as in nearby towns such as Bundoran, Arva, Elphin and Strokestown, were closed last March at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis and according to Bank of Ireland its services at the time were “being kept under review.”
Cllr Sean McGowan tabled a motion at a meeting of Carrick-on-Shannon area councillors on Monday last calling on Bank of Ireland to immediately reopen their branches in Mohill and Drumshanbo.
He described it as “appalling” that the bank would leave the area and its customers without a service for the past three months.
Cllr McGowan, while welcoming the move to reopen the banks, said both towns have no other bank serving them and while the ATMs at both branches were operational, no lodgements could be made.
“It's an appalling way to treat their customers,” he said.
Mohill-based Cllr Thomas Mulligan agreed and described the bank behaviour as “absolutely disgraceful” and said it resulted in people who were cocooning having to travel outside the permitted zone to Carrick-on-Shannon or elsewhere to make a lodgement.
“I think it's time Bank of Ireland came out and said what they intend to do”, he said, and called for a major rethink of policy by the bank.
Cllr Des Guckian said the Irish public funded those banks during the economic crisis and it is up to the big parties to tell those banks to provide a proper social service to towns and villages in rural Ireland.
Cllr Paddy Farrell supported the call and said he hoped the bank was not using Covid-19 as an excuse to get out. He called on the Council executive to try and get answers from them.
Bank of Ireland has outlined its plans to reopen branches around the country with the branches in this locality all having a reduced opening time of 10am-1pm, Monday-Friday.
Modifications will be made to allow for social distancing and the protection of customers and workers in each branch.
The bank said, from June 29, it will return all services to ATMs. These had continued to provide cash withdrawal services at the closed branch locations but lodgement services were withdrawn. These ATMs will again offer cash and cheque lodgements, as well as withdrawal services - 24 hours a day - from June 29.
Gavin Kelly, CEO of Retail Ireland at Bank of Ireland, commented, “We have been monitoring and adapting our operations throughout Covid-19 to reflect customer demand and public health advice.
“As the economy starts to reopen, which is critically important for families and businesses across Ireland, we are updating our operations over the coming weeks.
“In line with Phase 3, we will reopen most closed branches from 29 June, while making changes to ensure that social distancing can be maintained for the safety of our customers and colleagues. ATM services will also return to full operations.
“We will also continue to offer all of our dedicated Covid-19 services for customers requiring specific support, including personal customers and businesses.”