350 staff affected as 67 branches to close
STATE-rescued AIB is to close 67 branches across the country, it confirmed yesterday. The bank said 51 locations will lose a branch by the end of this year, with 16 more closing in 2013.
Last week, the Irish Independent reported that the bank would close up to 70 branches.
A further five branches at AIB's Northern Ireland subsidiary First Trust Bank are also earmarked for closure.
AIB said nearly 350 staff would be affected but insisted there would be no compulsory redundancies. Staff affected by closures will be relocated to nearby branches, it said.
"All customer account numbers, cheque books, direct debits, standing orders, ATM/debit, credit cards and any credit facilities will remain the same," said AIB's head of branch banking, Denis O'Callaghan.
"Customers in each area will be provided with details of their new branch, local An Post services and AIB mobile bank routes, where relevant, in advance of the closures and staff will be available to discuss all aspects of the changes."
The bank said it was in discussions with An Post to allow customers affected by the closures to lodge cheques in post offices, as well as making cash lodgments and withdrawals.
The bank already has arrangements with 1,100 An Post outlets that allow its customers to lodge and withdraw cash. In addition, four mobile bank units will cover 31 rural locations across Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Tipperary, Limerick, Kerry and Cork.
"Staff are going to be redeployed," said a spokeswoman. "We have around 346 people working in the affected branches. Not all of them are full-time."
The Irish Bank Officials Association described the announcement as "traumatic" for the workforce. General secretary Larry Broderick said AIB had shown no regard for customers and that there was a danger of some Irish towns ending up with no more than an ATM.
Among the affected branches are six amalgamations and the closure of 45 sub-offices or smaller branches. These will close this year, with the first shutting its doors on October 12.
Limerick will be one of the biggest losers, with the loss of eight branches, while Tipperary will see five go. Seven will go in Cork and four in Mayo.
AIB chief executive David Duffy said the closures were necessary to allow AIB to continue providing credit to the economy at sustainable levels.
He insisted that there would be little inconvenience to customers due to a deal with An Post to extend banking facilities.
The bank announced plans in March to lay off 2,500 staff by the end of 2013.