Bank of Ireland's decision to remove Irish language option from ATMs slammed
Bank of Ireland has defended its decision to remove the Irish language option from a number of its ATMs, despite the move being widely criticised by both customers and politicians.
The leading Irish bank was forced to respond after a number of consumers queried the change at certain cash machines nationwide.
According to the bank, it has been replacing older ATMs, which offer the withdrawal function, with new LATMs, which provide additional services, including lodgment, since 2010.
"These LATMs give enhanced 24/7 access to banking services for business and personal customers," the bank said.
It also said that demand for transactions through the Irish language has fallen "steadily".
"When we analyse our ATMs which provide an Irish option, we find that fewer than 1pc of ATM transactions on those devices are completed in Irish," a spokesperson told independent.ie.
As a result, and as the newer LATM machines are replacing the older ATMs, "it is not viable to continue to provide an Irish language option", the bank has insisted.
On Wednesday afternoon, Labour Party spokesperson on Gaeilge and teh Gaeltacaht, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin slammed the move to remove the Irish language option.
"For many years, this Irish language option has been a very welcome addition to banking services in this country and its removal shows very little regard for those who use the Irish language daily and live in Gaeltacht areas," he said.
"The latest Census figures tell us that 190,276 people speak Irish every week. Initiatives like being able to take out cash as Gaeilge are a novel way of inserting the Irish language into our daily lives."
Senator Ó Ríordáin joined a number of customers who have called for a reversal of the decision by Bank of Ireland.
"It would be a significant symbolic gesture to Irish speakers right across the country," he said.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Irish language Peadar Tóibín said the banking sector in Ireland has been extremely poor in facilitating Irish language speakers in the use of the Irish language.
"It is impossible to get statements, online banking or any customer service in Irish anywhere," he said.
"Bank of Ireland have been unique in making an effort to simply facilitate the Irish language with the provision of ATMs with an Irish option.
"This cost, little if anything, met the needs of thousands of customers and allowed the bank to show that it values a key element of our identity."
Bank of Ireland said it would continue to provide an Irish language option on all cash machines located within retail units - and on some ATMs located within their branch network.