A POSTMASTER and local councillor has accused Bank of Ireland of “piggybacking on the State,” in its deal which the bank says is designed to cushion the blow of branches closures in Miltown Malbay, Kilkee, Tulla and elsewhere.
Last Monday, in tandem with announcing the shutting of over 100 branches, Bank of Ireland outlined a new deal to allow its customers to do their financial business in post offices.
Councillor Shane Talty, who is postmaster in Ennistymon and Lahinch, described the planned closures as “regressive”. “There’s a report from consultants Grant Thornton recommending an annual €17 million Public Service Obligation (PSO) commitment to the post office network,” he said. “The bank is piggybacking on the State and the fact that it will ultimately have responsibility to support services. The bank is abandoning the community and the State will be left holding the post office network in its lap. The transaction fee to postmasters will not sustain the network.”
Deputy Michael McNamara also called for clarity on the nature of services at post offices. “Are we really being told that post offices will take large cash lodgements? Are post offices going to have ATMs outside them?” he asked. He described as “a horrible irony” the fact that people who have been using Broadford Post Office are now being told, due to is imminent closure, to go to Tulla, where the local bank is closing.
An Post Retail has contacted postmasters, expressing ‘delight’ at the new deal with Bank of Ireland. Correspondence, seen by The Champion, outlines that “the scope of the services to be provided are Personal and SME cash lodgements, cash withdrawals in every Post Office and cheque acceptance (similar to Ulster Bank service) in Post Offices as determined by the bank”.
An Post has outlined a phased increase in services. The first phase will facilitate cash lodgements, while cheque acceptance and cash withdrawal services will follow a short time later. The company said it expects the first of these new transactions to take place in the third quarter of this year.
In a statement, Gavin Kelly, CEO of Retail Ireland at Bank of Ireland said the branch closures would be done “in a way that protects local access to physical banking for those who want it through a new partnership with An Post” ensuring “continuity of services locally”. He said the partnership would be up and running before any branch closure in September.