DEEPLY angry customers of AIB in Tarbert are set to leave en masse for other banks.
Scores of the bank's customers in Tarbert voiced their anger over the branch's planned closure at a public meeting in the town on Friday.
They are now mounting a large protest outside the bank's Listowel branch this coming Friday in an effort to highlight the closure of the historic branch which has been in existence in Tarbert since 1874.
"People have said it very plainly; if the AIB leaves Tarbert, Tarbert people will leave the AIB, it's as simple as that," Tarbert Development Association member John Fox said.
AIB is planning to close the bank next month as well as its Glin and Foynes branches in west Limerick, leaving no AIB branch between Listowel and Limerick City. Locals are concerned the move will make life extremely difficult and will send out a very negative message about business in Tarbert - which is still waiting with baited breath on positive news of the massive Shannon LNG gas plant project.
"We had meetings with local and area managers who undertook to come back to us but they haven't done so," Mr Fox said.
"Our biggest concern is the impact this will have on the commercial life of the community. It's part of the slow dismantling of rural Ireland and while we might not succeed in getting the AIB to change its plans we hope we might strike a blow for other rural communities here."
Tarbert people have branded the AIB's plan to send a 'mobile' bank to the town for a half day every fortnight as an ' insult'. They have urged the AIB to staff the premises on a parttime basis at the very least but they have not heard anything back.
Tarbert GAA treasurer Des Buckley made it clear the community is not taking the matter lightly. "We want the top people in AIB to understand that a lot of people in Tarbert will have to review their business with the bank if the decision is not reversed. We will lose a huge amount of local knowledge with the transfer of staff and it will make banking much more difficult for people who will now have to go to Listowel. It seems almost impossible to get feedback from the bank," he added.