Bailed-out AIB closing 44 branches nationwide today
BAILED-out Allied Irish Banks (AIB) is to permanently shut down 44 of its branches across the country today.
The move is part of an overall plan to close a total of 67 outlets by next year.
AIB said the mass closure and amalgamation of some branches followed a review of services and was a bid to return the bank to viability.
Head of branch banking Denis O'Callaghan said many outlets had seen a decline in customer visits.
"We have seen a very significant change in the way our customers wish to do their banking," said Mr O'Callaghan.
"As a result of this, many of our branches have seen a large decline in customer visits.
"Notwithstanding this, branches will remain an important part of AIB's overall distribution strategy and will be complemented by an enhanced online service."
He said arrangements had been made with An Post to ensure people who have lost a branch in their area can carry out banking transactions at their local post office.
Customers will be able to make cash and cheque lodgements, withdraw cash and make credit card payments with the An Post service.
All customer account numbers, cheque books, direct debits, standing orders, ATM and debit cards and any credit facilities will not be affected by the closures.
The bank announced earlier this year plans to close a total of 67 branches.
On top of the 44 shutting up shop today, three other outlets closed earlier this month, four are expected to shut down in November and the remaining 16 will close in 2013.
To coincide with the closures, AIB launched a community mobile bank service in 32 locations across Ulster, Munster and Connaught.
Services include cash, cheque and coin lodgements, cash withdrawals, bill payments and foreign exchange orders and collections.
Elsewhere, at the start of October, AIB announced its second interest rate hike in the space of just two months.
The bank increased its standard variable mortgage rate by 0.5pc to 4pc. The new rate, which will take effect from November 13, is expected to hit around 70,000 homeowners.
This could see repayments on a €200,000 variable rate mortgage shoot up by €120 a month.
Earlier this year, the bank announced plans to lay off 2,500 workers by the end of 2013 in a bid to save €170m a year.
It has insisted all measures are part of ongoing endeavours to return the struggling bank back to profitability.