The Rural Independent Group has blamed the government for allowing AIB to “further downgrade” banking services.
The rural TDs believe this:
- Further hollows out rural communities;
- Undermines social inclusion;
- Endangers vulnerable customers to the risks of online banking abuse.
The group stressed that cash services are also “crucial” to farmers and SMEs, who rely on depositing cash in banks for security.
On the back of this, the TDs believe that the deliberate action cannot go answered, and that is what has unearthed an appeal for the Dáil to be recalled immediately.
The group says the refusal of cash and cheques at 70 branches represents further reductions in rural banking services. This action, it warns, will “likely” lead to the closure of those branches “shortly”.
Rural Independent Group leader, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, states:
“The withdrawal of cash services, by a predominantly government-owned bank (63.5%), is another kick in the teeth to rural communities.”
“While many consumers use cashless payments, others still prefer to use cash for all transactions, many of whom have zero access to digital money.”
“Ireland will be left without a functioning retail banking network unless policies change to ensure the banking sector is properly regulated and controlled.”
“Even the Central Bank acknowledges that cash remains crucial for economic functions and social inclusion.”
“Yet, the top brass bankers and the minister ignore this. This gives rural towns and the socially vulnerable, such as elderly or lower income groups, the ‘two fingers’”.
He says the failure of the government to protect the public’s interests means that AIB alone was allowed to close 75 branches across the state since 2008.
Now, he adds, the bank is being permitted to effectively close another 70 of its remaining 170 branches.
He says that advice for customers to use the limited services available through the post office is “completely misleading”. “The An Post network faces its own ongoing contraction, also due to government failure.”
He adds that it is “incredibly selfish” of AIB to proceed with this latest downgrading, at a time when it is “vying” for some of the one million new customers available because of KBC and Ulster Bank’s withdrawals.
“Minister Donohue ignored our calls earlier this year for a fully frank Dáil debate on the future of AIB and the services it provides,” he claims.
“Today, we again call on the minister to make a public statement. We want to know why he is allowing the bank to deliberately decrease rural services.”
McGrath stresses that the public deserves transparency and access to banking services.
Currently, he says, due to the government’s “neglect and scheming actions”, the public is being denied both.