Publicans and politicians condemn AIB move to remove cash from 70 branches
“Local communities deserve a proper banking service without having to travel two hours to get that service.”
A number of groups are calling on Allied Irish Bank (AIB) to reverse its decision to remove cash from 70 of its outlets, creating cashless branches across the country.
The move is set to come into effect from 30 September onwards.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), who represent thousands of publicans nationwide, has said the impact on small business owners will be severe.
“Our members will be forced into a situation where they will have to carry cash for longer distances and then wait in larger queues as the branches that do remain open become busier," said VFI Chief Executive Paul Clancy.
“Publicans in Castletownbere will now have to travel to Bantry, a one-hour journey each way. Taking into consideration the ‘wait time’ in the branch this simple cash transaction could take upwards of three hours to complete.
“Publicans will be forced to reduce the frequency of visits to the nearest branch, which will increase the cash held in the premises which could impact insurance cover. There is also a consequential increase in mileage, an unwelcome development that will increase pollution and drive up energy costs for small business owners.
“AIB’s suggestion that local post offices will take up the slack in areas without bank branches fails to stand up to scrutiny. Coin withdrawals in post offices are capped at €1,500 per week and must be pre-ordered. Cash lodgements are capped at €5,000 per week. This is a ridiculous situation for local businesses to find themselves in after years of loyalty to AIB.
“Given the level of disquiet among our membership, the negative impact the decision will have on their businesses and the further weakening of commercial infrastructure in towns and villages, we are asking AIB reconsider the plan to effectively close 70 branches.
“Local communities deserve a proper banking service without having to travel two hours to get that service,” Clancy concluded.
A number of opposition party TDs have also blasted the move, including both Sinn Féin's and Labour's spokespeople on finance.
Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty described the decision as "a short-sighted one."
“This will effectively remove all access to cash, cheque, foreign exchange and ATM services from the branches in question.
“At a time when communities are already struggling to navigate a rapidly changing banking sector, this is the wrong decision.
“AIB again justifies a decision to reduce banking services on the grounds of reduced use by consumers – again paying little regard to the impact the pandemic had on consumers using face-to-face services."
Labour's Ged Nash condemned the decision, calling it "another nail in the coffin for relationship banking in Ireland."
"What makes it even more extraordinary is that this move was made when hundreds of thousands of Ulster Bank and KBC customers are looking for a new home for their accounts and in the middle of a government-led review into the future of retail banking.
“Monumental decisions like this impact on vulnerable customers, especially those who may not be comfortable doing transactions digitally."
The full list of AIB branches going cashless is available here.
Featured Images: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie