Killorglin businessman Damian Quigg and his wife Nuala have strongly criticised the decision by Allied Irish Bank (AIB) this week to make their local branch ‘cashless’ within weeks of them becoming customers of the bank.
There is huge anger and frustration across Kerry this week following at the news that five banks in the county and one in West Limerick are to become entirely cashless. This includes the Killorglin branch, where Damian and Nuala just recently became customers.
The couple had been customers of Ulster Bank, which has shut down, forcing them to find an alternative bank. Having undertaken research, they decided to go with AIB, and just two weeks ago, the couple met with AIB staff to begin the transfer of their account to the bank.
On Monday, the news came to light that AIB is to make 70 branches cashless, including the Killorglin branch.
"We met with an advisor in AIB and decided to move everything to them, but at no point were we ever told that they were making our local branch cashless. This was just two weeks ago,” Damian told The Kerryman.
"We feel very let down.
"We moved everything lock, stock and barrel”, he told The Kerryman.
Cahersiveen and Kenmare are also to become cashless, meaning the Iveragh peninsula will have no local AIB bank, and any need to access full banking services will force customers to travel to Killarney.
This is a round trip of 120km for those living in Cahersiveen. Castleisland, Dingle and Abbeyfeale are also to become cashless. This means that there will not cash at any of those branches, and ATM services are being removed.
Damian, who is a former councillor for Sinn Féin, said that the decision to make banks cashless is extremely hard on elderly people. He said that the Government is encouraging people to move to rural Ireland on one hand, and on the other services are being removed.
He said rural communities must stand up to such decisions by the bank, which is withdrawing services from people who bailed out Irish banks after the 2008 financial crash.
"We feel like we were sold a pup, and we feel they should have made us aware before we opened an account with them. What are we supposed to do now?” he asked.
He said he and his wife are now considering changing banks again, a task they do not relish, but the AIB downgrading services in their community leaves them with little choice.
AIB said that enhanced banking services will be provided at local post-office branches in each town, and these will include cash transactions. Customers can withdraw up to €1,500 in cash per day from their AIB current account and lodge up to €5,000 a week in cash.
Businesses can lodge up to €50,000 by prior arrangement with the post office. Other services include foreign-exchange services.
The branches in those towns will be re-purposed to focus more on account opening, financial planning, mortgages, loans, savings and investment, AIB said.