A CAMPAIGN to have the Bank of Ireland in Tulla re-opened is gaining momentum. The branch was one of 101 nationwide which were closed temporarily in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Branches in Kilkee and Miltown were also shut down, as Bank of Ireland said it needed to switch focus to priority services.
Members of the Killaloe Municipal District are to send a letter to the regional manager seeking the restoration of services, while a petition is circulating in the town and a Facebook campaign ‘Open Our Bank’ has been set up.
Sheila Vaughan of Vaughan Supply said the concern locally is that the bank has used Covid-19 as an opportunity to close the Tulla branch permanently. “Bank of Ireland saw its chance and moved very quickly to close the doors,” she said. “The move is anti-rural, especially when so many small businesses are finding things tough.”
Ms Vaughan said that while many services can be conducted on-line, the lack of a branch is a major inconvenience: “I’ve had to write to all of my customers and discourage them from using cheques. This isn’t always possible, especially for the older generation. There is also a safety issue, as well as the inconvenience of having to queue up at branches in Scariff or Ennis.”
The lack of services, even when the branch in Tulla was open, has been a long-running cause of annoyance. “We’ve never had an ATM at the branch,” she noted. “There branch had already been cashless for some time. That meant having to go to Scariff or Ennis, even to get change for the till.”
“It really doesn’t look good for the village,” Ms Vaughan added. “When people come into Tulla and can withdraw some cash, they’re more likely to spend it in the shops locally.”
The prospect of the business community coming together and collectively threatening to close their Bank of Ireland accounts has also been mooted, but it’s a move that Ms Vaughan believes would cut little ice. “If I have a customer raising a concern with me, I will do my best to respond to it,” she said. “In the case of the banks, the priority seems to be shareholders, not staff and not customers. The real fear is that the need for the bank to cut costs after coronavirus will become an excuse for permanent closure.”