The decision by AIB to close two of its bank branches in Kilkenny has been greeted locally with a combination of concern and anger.
The AIB bank in Thomastown will close by the end of this year, with the Urlingford branch to follow suit in early 2013. AIB has said that staff affected by the closures will be transferred to the branch on High Street in Kilkenny City.
In a statement released last Friday, the bank confirmed the closure of 45 sub-offices nationwide, with six branch amalgamations in the autumn, and a further 16 branch closures in 2013. The closures are part of a review of the bank’s operations as part of the wider transformation and cost reduction programme.
Thomastown county councillor Michael O’Brien (Labour) condemned the impending closure of the local bank branch. He said that the decision amounted to an ‘arrogant action’, and showed a total disregard for communities and customers.
“What has also made the Thomastown issue so bad is that no single business was consulted in advance about the AIB plan even though small business is at that heart of the very survival of normal banking restoration”, he said.
“The taxpayer currently funds this bank and everyone therefore wants to see normality and profitability brought back into banking. But that profitability cannot be at the expense of a functioning bank network for towns the size of Thomastown or at the expense of equality among customers.”
IFA President and Kilkenny man John Bryan also expressed his reservations over the impact of the closures on rural and agricultural communities.
“The AIB branch closures, coming in the wake of recent similar announcements by Permanent TSB and NIB, will cause concern among customers,” he said.
“It is critical that the bank moves to reassure its farmer customers that a personal banking service will be maintained. A strong working relationship between the farmer and his bank is an important part of any viable farm business.”
In its results for the first six months of the year, the state-owned AIB bank posted an operating loss of €1.1 billion. This represents a 64% reduction on the figure for the same period last year. The bank has said there will be no complusory redundancies as it undergoes restructuring.
“Staff are going to be redeployed as part of the restructuring,” said a spokesperson for AIB.
“We have around 346 people working in the affected branches. Not all of them are full-time members of staff.”