FSU calls on Banks to pause all branch closures until a full review of services is conducted

28 September 2022

John O’Connell, General Secretary of the Financial Services Union (FSU) has called on all Banks to pause branch closures until a full review of the retail banking system has occurred.

Speaking at the ICTU NI Retired Workers Conference in Belfast Mr O’Connell said:

“The rush by the main retail banks to digital banking has created a huge divide between those people able to access online services and a large group of people who are cautious about using online services or lack the confidence and ability to do their banking over the internet.

Increasingly we are seeing shops and businesses accept card only and it is difficult to find an ATM that does not charge you to access your own money.

Danske Bank and Ulster Bank are currently closing branches over this month and October. These closures effect vulnerable people the most and should not happen.

The former Minister for Finance Conor Murphy MLA set up a roundtable discussion between the main stakeholders in the Banking sector last February. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a Government in Northern Ireland we have been unable to continue those discussions. We need regular dialogue between stakeholders so that a planned approach to change in the sector occurs which protects staff, customers, and business.

A pause on all branch closures until a planned and structured approach to change in the sector is the least that customers and staff deserve. We call on all banks in Northern Ireland to commit to the Bank branch structure similar to the approach now adopted by their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland and to state publicly there will be no branch closures for the foreseeable future.”