FEARS have been expressed for the future of the Bank of Ireland branch in Tulla and a campaign to save it from permanent closure has begun.
The bank, which is located on Main Street in the town, was among 101 branches nationwide to close temporarily from March 24 last, in a move which Bank of Ireland said would enable it to focus on priority services during the Covid-19 crisis. The branches in Kilkee and Miltown Malbay were also closed as part of the bank’s response.
In Tulla, the Bank of Ireland branch is the only bank in the town. Its closure has left the people of the town relying on an ATM in the local supermarket to access cash over the last two months.
Raising his concerns at the May meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District, Councillor Pat Hayes, called on Bank of Ireland to “come clean” about the future of the Tulla branch.
“The branch was closed down very quickly,” the Fianna Fáil member noted. “The decision has made people concerned over the long-term future of the branch and it’s time now for Bank of Ireland to make their plans clear. The hardship for customers, particularly those in business, is considerable. There is no ATM other than the one in Supervalu. The owners of Supervalu provide a fine facility, but if they’re closed, there is no ATM available. People are annoyed that they don’t have even this basic service from Bank of Ireland. The bank has claimed there are fewer people using the branch, but we don’t feel that this is the case. It’s very disheartening that people now have to avail of services in Scariff or Ennis and don’t have them locally.”
Councillor Hayes called on his fellow Killaloe district members to write to Bank of Ireland, as a matter of priority, and call for the reopening of the branch. “We as a district must write to the regional manager to have services restored in Tulla,” he said. “There is a petition among businesses to try to get the bank re-opened. There are a lot of services that depend on having cash available.”
The move comes as local groups around Ireland begin to mobilise to ascertain the future of their Bank of Ireland branches. Campaigns have been launched in Mayo, Waterford and Kildare, some involving socially distant demonstrations, to have the banks re-opened.
In March, Bank of Ireland said it had seen a reduction in footfall in its branches, while it was seeing an increase in customers needing a different range of supports. The bank said the changes would allow staff from temporarily closed branches to support the bank’s larger branches and help contact centres manage the increased volume of customers requiring Covid-19 support, especially for mortgage and SME loan payment breaks.
Earlier this month, Bank of Ireland Chief Executive Francesca McDonagh said she does not forsee permanent branch closures.