Cllrs fume over bank closures

“It's disgraceful! The way we bailed the banks out, the way they're treating us now. It's nothing short of disgraceful,” said Fianna Fáil's Clifford Kelly, responding to correspondence received by the council from the office of the Minister for Finance regarding local bank branch closures.

Cllr Kelly was one of four local elected representatives who sought to discuss the impending withdrawal of several prominent financial services brands from high streets across the region.

The others who backed a motion to write to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and lobby him to intervene were fellow party members Aiden Fitzpatrick, John Paul Feeley and Sean Smith.

In March Bank of Ireland announced it is to close 10 local services as part of a decision to close 103 branches nationwide. The move, the bank claims, has been prompted by the acceleration in digital and online banking.

Branches in Arva, Cootehill and Kingscourt will close in Cavan.

In Monaghan, branches in Castleblayney and Clones will shut.

Elsewhere in the region, branches in Granard in Longford, Castlepollard in Westmeath, and Athboy in Meath will also close.

In neighbouring Co Leitrim, the Bank of Ireland in Manorhamilton has also been earmarked for closure.

In Northern Ireland, Bank of Ireland will shut its branch in Lisnaskea.

Only the month before Ulster Bank, the State’s third biggest lender, a brand synonymous with this region for 180 years, confirmed the brand would soon disappear from the retail landscape in the 26 counties.

Ulster Bank will eventually close its remaining three branches in County Cavan - at Cavan Town, Ballyconnell and Ballyjamesduff- and others in Monaghan Town, Longford, Mullingar and Navan.

It's understood that some of these branches may be saved under a different brand in the future as part of ongoing negotiations.

Ulster Bank branches in Belturbet, Killeshandra, Kilnaleck, and a part-time operation in Swanlinbar all closed in 2013, along with a branch in Castlepollard. The following year branches in Clones and Castleblayney in Co Monaghan; Granard in Co Longford and Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, also shut.

Then in 2017, the lender closed two more branches locally - this time in Arva and Cootehill.

Cllr Smith described the letter from Minister Donohoe's office as a “standard reply” with “nothing in it, absolutely nothing.”

Cllr Feeley meanwhile mused that part of the current housing crisis in Ireland at present was down to the lack of competition in the mortgage market.

He said it was “reasonable” to expect that the government try to push for traditional financial banking services to be made available on a “regional basis” at least.

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