Bank on it…a cashless society would will reduce our civil rights

The sheer brass neck displayed by the AIB in its attempt to make 70 of its branches cashless (including Castlerea) has laid bare the obvious disconnects which lie between them pursuing profits and servicing the needs of their customers.

I’m glad the backlash they received was so strong it made them do a U-turn quick enough to give them redout from the g-force! Good enough for them – I hope it was painful!

How could they be so callous, conceited and unthinkably inconsiderate of their customers –especially seniors and rural dwellers, many of whom would be forced to travel long distances to withdraw their money?

I don’t bank with AIB, or as I’m calling them, ‘The bank that’s willing to push their agenda and to hell with what’s in the best interest of the customer’. However, I am a customer of a bank which received €4.8 billion from the State – and when I say ‘State’, I mean taxpayers. To that end, I’m finding it nauseating that any financial institution that exists purely because of handouts delivered at our expense could be so arrogant that it believes it’s unaccountable for its actions.

But hey, I suppose it comes down to the underlying culture of banks, which is (given AIB’s audacious proposal) to foster a cashless society while having full control over customers’ financial lives – not to mention their economic habits. I mean, what will they come up with next… force us to undergo retina scans when buying a loaf of bread?

I’m someone who likes to have the choice of using cash whenever I can. Nevertheless, with so many people not carrying as much as a two euro coin for the supermarket trolley in their pockets, I fear its demise is just around the corner. However, moving solely to debit cards, credit cards, and apps like Revolut, etc. would not just bring about adverse effects by placing many on the brink of financial exclusion, but as cash has always been an integral part of our lives, its expiration could literally cut off vulnerable groups from society.

I’m talking about some senior citizens here, the ones for whom abolishing notes and coins may prove to be a major impediment to their daily lives – even, in certain circumstances, removing their decision-making powers. This is something that as a society, we must not allow to happen.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that all seniors are incapable of managing their finances, and that a move to a demonetised way of living would leave everyone of pensionable age struggling. Indeed, the adoption of technologies in older age groups has grown markedly during the Covid lockdowns. What I am doing is hypothesising around the type of issues that could potentially manifest for those who don’t use smartphones (or who can’t afford them) if these devices become the only way to carry out a transaction.

How do people do their weekly food shopping, pay their energy bills or even do a bit of buying and selling at the mart or the car boot sale? What happens to those for whom the closure of local branches, where banks have deserted their communities, leaves them with no choice but to stash their few bob in a hole in the mattress or inside a bag of frozen peas in the freezer? What happens to those born in the pre-internet banking world who’re not yet ready, or more importantly, do not wish to live their daily lives without the comfort of having a physical purse or wallet full of notes and coins at their disposal?

I know that for many of us, using cards or phones has become a very convenient way of paying for ‘stuff’. Nonetheless, I must admit that every time I tap, I worry I’m placing myself at an increased risk of being mugged by an unscrupulous hacker. Remember last year’s cyber-attack? This practice provides the consumer with no anonymity whatsoever.

Speaking of no anonymity… in a cashless society, the bank will have details of every single item you own, because every transaction you make is recorded and traceable. But what happens when there’s a power cut? Didn’t the government warn us of possible winter outages due to the country ‘grappling’ with tight electricity supply issues? What happens if there’s a technical malfunction on the merchant’s side? What happens when something as simple as a dead phone battery renders us not just lunch-less, but also leaves us pot-less?

Be afraid folks, be very afraid, because a nation which is forced by any financial institution or government to live within a dystopian economy where the State has full control of the people’s earnings is a nation robbed of its civil rights.

 

Would Dishi Rishi be more sympathetic to Ireland’s plight?

The race to lead the British Conservative party is well and truly on, as party members across the UK cast their votes to decide whether it’ll be Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak who gets to replace disgraced former PM Boris Johnson.

While we won’t get to know the result until September 5th, I have to say that the situation presents our own little nation with a ‘Hobson’s choice’ scenario, in so much as neither Truss nor Sunak is particularly sympathetic towards us, placing Ireland in what I call a serious ‘situation-ship’!

Take Liz – Maggie Thatcher’s, remainer-turned-Brexiteer, bookies’ favourite. Given her total disregard for the Northern Ireland Protocol and her threats to rip up part of it, etc., it’s fair to assume that the future’s not looking bright for those of us living on this little island!

While I’m normally all for girl power, in this instance, I’m hoping this particular girl doesn’t succeed. You see readers, I draw the line at stupidity, and given that Truss believes that placing trade barriers between the Brits and the EU (i.e. us) will somehow result in making them richer (a daft assumption), her succession to the role of leader mustn’t happen.

I’d also never, ever, support anyone who, while suffering from a severe case of ‘cakeism’, allegedly said those Brexit-imposed barriers (which she now opportunistically buys into) wouldn’t have any serious impact on us here in Ireland – that is, other than affecting ‘a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks’. How ignorant!

Methinks we’ll probably be ever so slightly better off dealing with straight-from-puberty-to-mediocrity Dishi Rishi.

 

Trimble was a great statesman

The greatest Irishman, statesman, soldier, commander-in-chief, and revolutionary leader that ever lived (in my opinion) Michael Collins will be gone from this earth one hundred years next month.

Struck down in his prime on August 22nd 1922 by a coward whose name will never be revealed (unless An Taoiseach Micheál Martin agrees to hold a State enquiry, which is unlikely), General Collins will at last be honoured with a proper memorial at his death site at Béal na mBláth; and not before time!

This week, nearly one hundred years on, another great statesman and former diehard Orangeman, Ulster Unionist hardliner David Trimble – a man who once menacingly manned the barricades at those threatening Orange marches at Drumcree – passed away. While I could never hold Trimble in the same esteem as I will forever hold Collins (I’m kind of obsessed with the Big Fella), I have to comment that although they were polar opposites politically, he, like Mick, made his mark and left this world with his own special legacy – that of peacemaker!

May both men, whose ideals and principles would at one time have made them bitter enemies, now rest in peace.