The four Bank of Ireland branches that closed in Kilkenny last week
Four towns across Co Kilkenny saw Bank of Ireland branches close last week.
The closure of bank branches in Callan, Thomastown and Graignamanagh is ‘an awful blow to rural Ireland’ says the chairman of the local municipal district council.
Cllr Michael Doyle said the decision by Bank of Ireland to close branches in all three towns in the district, which came into effect last week, was ‘crazy’.
The district chairman said local businesses will be affected and raised concerns about people keeping money in their homes.
“If you don’t have access to money in the three towns and you go into Kilkenny or New Ross, you will do your business there too. That’s an awful blow for local businesses.
“It’s not that long ago that the Irish people helped the banks out, in a big way. Tax-payers’ money bailed out a lot of banks in bother. To withdraw branches from big towns is absolutely crazy.”
Saying the closures were letting people down, Cllr Doyle said this is ‘a kick in the teeth for rural Ireland’.
He pointed out that ATM machines are also being withdrawn from the three towns. Like many, Cllr Doyle said he would prefer to deal with a person if he went into a bank branch.
Describing the closures as “a backwards step” by the bank, Cllr Doyle said security in rural areas could now become a concern if people start keeping money in their homes, because they can’t easily get to a bank.
“From a business point of view, you open a business where the numbers of population are. If you take those three towns, with a population of 3,000 plus in each of them, to leave them completely without a service is crazy,” Cllr Doyle added.
The closure of the Bank of Ireland branch in Urlingford is one that local people are ‘really struggling with’, according to Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh.
“Urlingford is a sizeable commercial town and many businesses made their lodgings in the bank, including business owners that have been travelling from nearby Johnstown since their bank closed,” she said.
“Now the nearest banks are miles away in Rathdowney and Thurles, adding further inconvenience to rural businesses at a time when they need more support.”
Cllr Cavanagh also noted that for many isolated or elderly people, the bank served as a social outlet, a place where they go and chat to people, and that this announcement is not only a huge blow for them, but for rural community life.
“Nobody should be denied access to banking services because they can’t work a smartphone,” said the north Kilkenny councillor.
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