Members of the public, business people from the town and local elected representatives in attendance at the Belturbet Public meeting held to discuss the imminent closure of Ulster Bank in the town, due May 24. L to R: Cllr John McDonald, Peggy Gray, Carmel Brady, Paddy Brady, John Wilson (Chair), Mickey Lee, Padraig Donohue, Ray Slaughter, Paul Burke, Brendan Fay, Seamus Fitzpatrick
The people of Belturbet have appointed a steering committee whose task it will be to sound out and listen to proposals from financial institutions interested in filling the void left by the planned departure of Ulster Bank from the town later this year.
"We'll do it to spite them and in spite of them, come May 24 when Ulster Bank in Belturbet closes its doors, we plan to have something here in place of it", Chairman of the public meeting which took place in Belturbet on Tuesday night (February 12) to discuss the bank closure, Barry Wilson told the 80 or so people in attendance.
Held to gauge the public feeling towards the bank's announcement last month to shut its branch in the town, and along with it, branches in Killeshandra and Kilnaleck, those gathered expressed sentiments of anger, betrayal and in some cases, even rebellion.
Put to the floor, local people spoke of the "faceless, nameless" banking hierarchy located in RBS offices in London, a far departure from the small town issues which affect the people of a town like Belturbet. There was particular unease when the meeting was informed by Cathaoirleach of Belturbet Town Council, Paddy Brady, who met with regional and local Management, that last year the Belturbet branch was the best performing in the county, and one of the best nationwide.
Issues such as the disappearance of an ATM facility, Night-Safe and other banking services were put across as being of high priority to members of the business community in attendance, while others stated accessibility, particularly for the elderly was another concern.
Despite this, some people expressed the fact that though they did not like the bank, or how they operated, they still did not want it to leave the town entirely.
Representatives of the bank were said to have been invited but "snubbed" attending the meeting, however in attendance were members of the Credit Union in Cavan, Mark McNamara (Manager), Vincent Walsh (Treasurer) and Michael Cropp (Chairman), the latter two of whom are from Belturbet town.
With an CU office already in the town, open once weekly, Mr Walshe said due to the Credit Union Act passed through the Dáil earlier this year, Credit Unions themselves were due to become more like banks, and therefore would be able to offer many of the same services available.
Aware of the some 3000 accounts currently held in the town by Ulster Bank, he said "if the people of the town support us by bringing their accounts to us, then we will support them", referring to the possibility of longer and extra opening days.
They're mere attendance was widely commended by members of the Belturbet business community, with many already expressing interest setting up accounts.
It was decided to appoint a standing committee, containing a cross-section of people from within the community, who will now request presentations from the various financial institutions interested in establishing or expanding their services into the town. From there, this committee will host a second public meeting, pencilled in to take place next month where they will explain what options are available to people in the town going forward.
See next week's The Anglo-Celt for full report on what was said at last night's meeting