Bank of Ireland branch in Durrow, one of three being closed in Laois
The closure of three of the seven remaining Bank of Ireland branches in Laois is "another nail in the coffin for rural life, according to the Laois Irish Farmers Association.
The branches in Durrow, Rathdowney and Mountrath are to close. Read more here.
Laois IFA President John Fitzpatrick says that farmers as well as rural dwellers will be hurt most, with 80% of the branch closures in rural areas.
"It is very disappointing, it's like another nail in the coffin for rural areas. First the garda stations, then the post offices were tightened up.
"They say there are new electronic ways to bank, but a lot of farmers have no access to broadband. Not every farmer is equipped to go down that road, whether its age related or broadband. Not just farmers but rural dwellers.
"We are being forced down this road, forced to a machine to lend you money whether you like it or not. the personal contact has gone. That's not good. Post offices are already inundated, they are not able to provide an efficient service as it is with the increases in mail since Covid and closures there too. They are absolutely overworked," Mr Fitzpatrick (pictured below) told the Leinster Express.
The IFA President Tim Cullinan said today’s announcement from Bank of Ireland is very disappointing news for farming and rural communities.
“This comes as a slap in the face to farmers and rural communities who rely on local branches for banking services. We estimate that over 80% of the branches identified for closure are in rural locations. The withdrawal of this vital service will discommode those without internet access and people whose preference is to do their banking in person.”
The IFA says it is worrying that the branch closure programme disproportionately targets rural Ireland, with the bulk of branch closures in rural locations. The farming organisation will be seeking an urgent meeting with Bank of Ireland senior management to raise the unfair targeting of rural Ireland with the closure programme.
"Similar to AIB and Ulster Bank, the bank has signed a deal An Post which will allow personal and business customers to use their local post office for certain services, including withdrawals and lodgements.
IFA Farm Business Chairperson Rose Mary McDonagh added that research from the UK has shown that the closure of just one branch reduces lending to the local community by some 64%.
"Today’s announcement is another hammer blow to the provision of banking services in Ireland following the recent confirmation that Ulster Bank plan to exit the Irish market," she said.