ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said AIB are showing complete disrespect for their customers by announcing that cash, ATM, and cheque services are to be removed from a further seventy of its branches. “Bank branches in rural Ireland have become few and far between in recent years causing all sorts of difficulties, but doing away with basic cheque handling, cash, and ATM services in the ones that do remain open is taking things a step too far. The question now arises – what is a bank for?” he said.
“Customers of these branches – both business and personal – will no longer be able to access cash or cheque services at the counter, or through machines inside the branch. These branches will neither accept nor dispense notes, coins, cheques, foreign exchange, or bank drafts and will remove any drop safes and night safes. If there is an ATM outside the branch it will also be removed, affecting not only AIB customers but all residents and visitors to the area by denying them access to cash. This will seriously undermine the economies of small towns and rural areas.”
“It is all very well saying that the typical customer can manage their banking needs online. However, this is not the case for self-employed people or people trying to run their own businesses, where there is an ongoing need to lodge cheques but also to use other banking services involving significant sums of money which are not necessarily available online. While An Post offers cheque lodging facilities, this is only available in some branches and the list is very hit and miss.”
Mr Kelleher said the government cannot continue to ignore the relentless dismantling of banking services in rural Ireland, particularly as the state remains a major shareholder in AIB. “A lot of effort and expense was put into saving the banking sector in this country, and the government’s commitment to rural Ireland will be measured by how much they are willing to see banking services decimated in rural Ireland.”