Bank of Ireland branch closures: Local politicians place focus on credit unions

Local public representatives have called for credit unions and post offices to fill the void following the widely criticised closure of 88 Bank of Ireland branches nationwide.

The branches which closed last Friday included those in Strokestown, Elphin, Ballygar and Dunmore.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said:

“It is worth the CEO of Bank of Ireland, Francesca McDonagh, remembering that when the bank was on its knees, it was the Irish people who bailed them out.

“It has been well documented in the media that arrangements with An Post may not suit everyone, with people from certain areas being forced to travel in excess of 20km or more to access services.

“With Bank of Ireland turning its back on so many communities, it is time for the likes of credit unions to stand up to the plate and work with local people and business owners to offer the services they require.

“I am aware that credit unions in some areas have been introducing upper limits to what each customer can hold with them, and this will need to be addressed if it prevents people from effectively utilising their services”.

Fellow Independent TD Denis Naughten called for a Dáil Committee to be established in the wake of the closures.

“Surely if Covid has taught us anything it is that when needed, ways can be found for State intervention in the long-term public interest,” he said.

“The basic independent banking infrastructure already exists but it remains fragmented and instead of a copy and paste model from some other country we should start with our credit unions, post offices and the two State banks, namely the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and Microfinance Ireland”.

Deputy Naughten added that the key elements to service both personal and business markets already exist through credit unions, post offices and State banks and that there was no need to “reinvent the wheel”.

Deputy Naughten also called for a more competitive mortgage market and access to cheap green finance to make existing homes more energy-efficient.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy said that while he has faced criticism locally, he “could not save the branches”.

“I genuinely feel sorry for older people who are quite upset about this and also local business people but 88 (Bank of Ireland) branches closed throughout the country and no one had the power to reverse that decision,” he said.

Senator Murphy vowed to fight for full banking services in credit unions and post offices and described the withdrawal of ATMS as “unfortunate” but said that most supermarkets provide these facilities.