Financial Services Union call on Central Bank to open consultation on access to cash as Bank of Ireland close 88 branches

08 October 2021

 A sad day as BOI close 88 Branches and withdraw ATMS from communities – says FSU

John O Connell, General Secretary of the Financial Services Union (FSU) has described the closure by Bank of Ireland (BOI) of 88 branches as a sad day for staff and customers and a real sign of the weakness of regulation in Ireland

Bank of Ireland announced last April that they would be closing 88 branches across the Republic of Ireland with a further 15 in Northern Ireland. Most of these branches will officially close today.

“Despite cross Party opposition in the Dail and in Stormont and across wide sections of the community Bank of Ireland have continued along the pathway of eroding their footprint and removing vital services from communities across our Country.

The silence of the Regulator in the Republic of Ireland in relation to these closures must be called out. The Governor of the Central Bank told a Dail Committee that he had not even sought a meeting with BOI to discuss these closures. The Regulator has clearly failed in its role of protecting customers and communities in this instance. 

The withdrawal of ATMS will mean there will be communities next week which will no longer have 24/7 access to cash. Despite the increase in card payments cash remains a vital payment method for consumers. 

This is something that has been foreseen in other jurisdiction like NI and the UK where the regulator has taken steps to ensure that cash is accessible for all. 

The UK Government are currently looking at extending their legislation in this area.

The aim of the legislation would be to set geographical areas on the basis of cash access facilities being available within maximum distances of a minimum percentage of the population. This would ensure reasonable access to cash for personal and SME customers

The FSU call on the Central Bank to open a consultation paper on the future access to cash to ensure that we safeguard to use of and access to cash and to urgently consider whether legislation and new enforcement powers are required in this area.

Our Banking sector is at a crossroads and needs a commitment from the Central Bank that the banking network will not disappear, and that they will be proactive in ensuring that communities and vulnerable people will not once again be hit the hardest”