Taoiseach Micheal Martin calls on AIB to ‘reconsider’ decision to make 70 branches cashless

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said banks should consider loyal older customers before they remove services after AIB said it was going cashless in 70 branches.

peaking as he touched down in Singapore, Mr Martin said banks have obligations and a “social contract” with their customers especially those from different generations.

He said: “We are moving towards a more cashless society. But that said there are significant cohorts of people, businesses and towns across Ireland who need this facility. And I do believe the banks should take notice of this. And certainly we will engage with the banks on that.

“I think they need to consider the people who have been loyal. Some customers have been with the bank down through the years particular, more senior generations. And I think the economics for many times is a factor as well. And I do believe they should reflect and reconsider the scale of what they’re doing.”

Mr Martin’s comments come amid a furious backlash against the move by AIB, particularly in rural areas.

Fine Gael TD Michael Ring has called on bank officials to appear before the Finance Committee to explain their decision.

He said: “This latest move by AIB to cease cash facilities at 70 branches, the majority of which are in rural communities like my own, flies in the face of basic decency and has rightly generated fury amongst people in the affected counties.

“There are many vulnerable customers in rural areas who may not have the digital skills to conduct their banking affairs online, as well as businesses who may to prefer to deal in cash.

“In my own county, branches in Ballinrobe and Claremorris will be removing cash, ATM and cheque services, and this comes on top of other bank closures that have occurred in recent years.

“I now want AIB to come before the Oireachtas Finance Committee and explain the rationale behind this move, and also what their future plans are and if they intend to close or remove services at more branches.”

Earlier, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association said AIB are showing disrespect to customers.

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher said: “Bank branches in rural Ireland have become few and far between in recent years causing all sorts of difficulties, but doing away with basic cheque handling, cash, and ATM services in the ones that do remain open is taking things a step too far. The question now arises- what is a bank for?

““It is all very well saying that the typical customer can manage their banking needs online. However, this is not the case for self-employed people or people trying to run their own businesses, where there is an ongoing need to lodge cheques but also to use other banking services involving significant sums of money which are not necessarily available online.

“While An Post offers cheque lodging facilities, this is only available in some branches and the list is very hit and miss.”

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