The decision taken by Bank of Ireland to close the branch in Moate has been condemned by local Fianna Fáil Councillor, Vinny McCormack.
Describing the announcement as “short sighted”, Cllr McCormack immediately called upon management within Bank of Ireland to reconsider their decision.
“I think all concerned will agree this announcement came as a huge shock to the Moate area on Monday morning. From the words of CEO Francesa McDonagh it appears that the selection of banks for closure was an Excel sheet exercise and the only consultation which took place was with Google Maps.
“Bank of Ireland looked at where they had branches and closed them purely on a geographical basis. There was no account taken of projected growth within an area or the potential for increased business.
“If such information was considered I have no doubt that Bank of Ireland Moate would not be listed for closure. The town has shown great resilience in growing and expanding its business base over the past number of years and without doubt there is huge potential for further growth. The closure of a second bank branch in the space of ten years following AIB’s withdrawal of services in 2012 is a huge blow for the people and business community of the area.
“A bank branch has stood proudly on the Bank of Ireland site in the town since the 1850s and we must do everything that we can to keep this service on the town.
“I know Minister of State Robert Troy will also be raising the matter with the Finance Minister this week and I am sure all of our other representatives will be pursuing it through various avenues,” Cllr McCormack asserted.
Cllr McCormack’s views were unanimously supported by his fellow elected representatives during the monthly meeting of Athlone Moate Municipal District.
Municipal District Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke noted that the Bank of Ireland branch in Moate was a symbol of reassurance for businesses within the town.
“Moate is a bustling business town with a very active community and in recent years ambitious plans of enhancement and growth have been noted for the town, so this move by Ireland’s largest pillar bank, to withdraw from Moate sends out a terrible message.
“While the BoI CEO, Francesca McDonagh, calmly rattled off the statistics supporting the decision to close so many of their branches, it became clear to me that the corporate entity Bank of Ireland does not care about or understand the important role a bank has in a growing town like Moate.
This is a ruthless commercial decision. Moate has a lot of potential to grow and is a great place in which to live and do business. The Bank of Ireland’s move points to a shift that concerns me a lot, one accelerated by Covid-19.
“A shift to a faceless society where we are all now instructed without been offered a choice, to conduct each transaction in our lives on a tablet or a phone, it’s certainly not the life I want.
“While I embrace technology with open arms and use it extensively in my business, I believe people should have a choice and this is at the heart of this approach by Bank of Ireland to close so many branches.
No public views were sought in this instance. It is a huge blow for the people of Moate who for generations have supported their local Bank of Ireland branch.
Cllr Frankie Keena stated that the decision to close the branch was a “serious blow” to the Moate community, noting that not all customers of the branch were “au fait with online banking” or had access to such a facility.
“Let us not forget that the State bailed out the banks and this is the manner in which the gesture of many is now reciprocated. This decision is wholly disappointing and we must, as a Council, make our views known to the relevant authorities,” Cllr Keena remarked.
Expressing his annoyance pertaining to the announcement, Cllr Tom Farrell, a long time customer of the branch in Moate, stated that the town would continue to thrive despite the decision taken to close the Bank of Ireland.
Fine Gael Councillor John Dolan noted the elected representative’s commitment to Moate with the Council’s aim to ensure that it becomes “the best little town in Ireland”.
“Sadly, the personal touch is now gone from banking and this decision taken by Bank of Ireland emphasises such a fact. We are all of one mind on this particular issue and we will write to both Minister for Finance and Bank of Ireland CEO as a united Council expressing our views that the branch should remain open,” Cllr Dolan commented.