Fine Gael TDs back motion over cash shortages in ATM machines
Fine Gael politicians have backed a motion calling on banks to tackle the issue of cash shortages in ATM machines in rural Ireland.
Party TDs and senators insisted that businesses in rural communities are unable to avail of services during peak trading periods because ATM machines were out of cash.
There were also warnings issued in relation to the rise in so-called 'loan sharks' ahead of the Christmas period.
The issue of banks and access to credit dominated discussions at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting this week.
The matter was raised on the floor by Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin, who tabled a number of proposals which focused on rural Ireland. Ms Mulherin, a constituency colleague of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, called on the Central Bank to address the "manner in which some ATM machines are not being replenished with cash over the weekend, especially in towns and villages in rural Ireland".
The motion also warned of the frustrations facing customers who have to travel long distances to avail of cash, often because ATMs are out of service.
TDs also voiced concern that elderly people are being "pushed" to using electronic services and online banking instead of being allowed to access cashier services.
And Ms Mulherin's motion also called on the party to endorse the position that banks are charging "exorbitant interest which is crippling small businesses on overdrafts and term loans".
During the meeting, junior finance minister Simon Harris said he supported the proposals in principle, but insisted that the Government has made major efforts to fix the banking system.
A number of parliamentary party members, including Meath West TD Ray Butler and Dublin West senator Catherine Noone, spoke strongly in favour of Ms Mulherin's motion.
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Butler said the practices of certain loan sharks is causing deep concern in Rural Ireland.
"Businesses and families are really struggling to access credit and are being refused loans regularly," Mr Butler said.
"The bottom line is we are heading towards Christmas and we need to take serious heed of the fact people are turning to loan sharks, many of whom are extremely dangerous and only care about profits."