Tuesday 20 February 2018

Rural areas to lose out as Ulster Bank confirms it is closing 22 branches and laying off staff

The bank confirmed that it is shutting 22 branches and laying off 220 people. Photo: GETTY
The bank confirmed that it is shutting 22 branches and laying off 220 people. Photo: GETTY
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

RURAL areas are set to be the big losers after Ulster Bank confirmed it is closing branches.

The bank confirmed that it is shutting 22 branches and laying off 220 people.

Most of the branch closures are in country towns, but five are set to go in Dublin.

The Dublin closures include relatively well off places such as Dalkey, Donnybrook, Rathmines and Sandyford, as well as Dorset Street in the city centre.

Four branches are going in towns in Cork.

The bank says that it will add two new mobile banks to its network.

It is aiming to achieve reductions in staff numbers through voluntary redundancies, but this cannot be guaranteed, it is understood.

The bank employs 2,810 people in branches and other roles.

There will be 88 branches after the closures, which will take place in June and September 2017.

Defending closures and lay-offs, the bank said it was seeing an average of just 30 customers a day using the branches it is closing.

Some 62pc of its transactions were digital last year. This compares with 10pc in branches, Ulster Bank said.

News of the branch closures was first reported in the Irish Independent earlier this month.

Ulster Bank chief executive Gerry Mallon said as well as doubling the number of mobile banks, the lender will introduce community banks. These are officials who will help vulnerable customers to transact digitally.

The bank is also increasing its investment in its existing branches, he said.

“These changes also include the closure of 22 branches.”

Mr Mallon said closing a branch was a difficult decision which the bank did not take lightly

“Our branch network remains an important part of how we serve our customers. However, the role of the branch continues to move toward advice and away from day-to-day transactions, with only 10pc of our customer interactions now happening in branch.”

The bank said it was consulting with the Financial Services Union on the job losses.

The affected branches are: Ardara, Co Donegal; Arva, Co Cavan; Ballincollig, Co Cork; Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo; Ballymote, Co Sligo; Blackpool, Co Cork; Briarhill, Co Galway; Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan; Carrigaline, Co Cork; Castletroy, Co Limerick; Cootehill, Co Cavan; Dalkey, Co Dublin; Donnybrook, Dublin; Dorset Street, Dublin; Edenderry, Co Offaly; Edgeworthstown, Co Longford; Fermoy, Co Cork; Newcastle, Co Galway; Newcastlewest, Co Limerick; Raphoe, Co Donegal;  Rathmines, Dublin; and Sandyford, Dublin.

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