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Independent.ie

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Is this the 'beginning of the end' for banking in rural Ireland?

Bank of Ireland (stock photo)
Bank of Ireland (stock photo)
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Over the counter banking services will be a thing of the past from tomorrow in the Co Sligo town of Ballymote as Bank of Ireland begins to roll out the overhaul of its rural branch network.

The bank is introducing a new "advice and self service model" in 100 branches nationwide by the end of the year.

The changeover will involve staff assisting customers to lodge and withdraw cash at self service machines. Coin services will also cease at the Ballymote branch.

Other affected locations include: Cobh, Cahir, Tulla, Cootehill, Urlingford, Graiguenamanagh, Borris, Portumna, Westport, Dunboyne, Athy and Portarlington. Portumna, Westport, Dunboyne, Athy and Portarlington will still have a counter service in the mornings until lunchtime.

A BOI spokesperson said the change comes as "the use of credit and debit card and contactless banking continues to grow".

However, a spokesman for the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association said it is a big concern for elderly farmers in Ballymote with a population of over 2,000 people.

Technology

"Older farmers don't trust the technology, they want to deal with people over the counter face to face," he said.

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The move marks the end of over the counter banking services in Ballymote which used to have three banks. Local Sinn Fein councillor Thomas Healy said business owners will be forced to drive up to 25kms to Sligo or Boyle to get coins for running their business.

"Bank of Ireland needs to give more services not less. My biggest fear is that this is the beginning of the end, soon machines will be all that's left," he said.

Ballymote mart manager Stephen Hannon said: "It's scandalous. Elderly people and elderly farmers will bear the brunt of the pain".


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