Last bank in Mountrath closing 'a shock for a lot of people'

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Last bank in Mountrath closing 'a shock for a lot of people'

The Bank of Ireland in Mountrath to close

The announcement today of Bank of Ireland closing three branches in Laois has been met with dismay.

The three branches are in Mountrath, Durrow and Rathdowney. It leaves Laois with just four branches, in Portlaoise, Portarlington, Mountmellick and Abbeyleix. Read more here. 

Mountrath businessman Eddie Phelan says it will leave the western half of Laois with no banks at all. 

"There might not be as many businesses in towns now but businesses can work anywhere now in the countryside," he said.

He said the news of the closure comes as a shock.

"The Bank of Ireland was the only bank left in Mountrath after AIB left. They promised it would stay open. It will be a shock for a lot of people. A lot of people and businesses depend on it. We will have to find another way around it now. We will have to drive to Portlaoise," he said.

"The only thing left here now is the credit union and the post office. And how long will we be left with those?" he said.

He believes that the staff in Mountrath will be transferred to another branch in Laois. 

Mr Phelan runs a restaurant and catering service.

"If as they say the level of lending drops when a bank leaves, it will make it harder for anyone to start up a business. If you don't want a big loan and you needed help, the bank was there and you knew the person. That's all gone now. When I started 42 years ago you could have a chat with the bank manager, now it takes weeks. We had AID and the Munster and Leinster and they were all busy back then," he said.

Being able to do lodgements and withdrawals at the post office will be a help Mr Phelan said.

"It will help older people," he said.