The Group has also called for the Dail to be recalled immediately, citing that rural communities cannot be hollowed out further when government Ministers are on holiday.
The Government is completely complicit in allowing State-owned AIB to make 70 of its 170 bank branches cashless, which further hollows out rural communities, undermines social inclusion, and endangers vulnerable customers to the risks of online banking abuse, according to the Rural Independent Group of TDs.
Speaking from his Tipperary constituency, the leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, stated:
“It is deplorable that Paschal Donoghue and his government are completely silent and complicit in allowing AIB to remove all cash services from branches in towns including Carrick-On-Suir, Cashel, Dingle, Abbeyfeale, Birr, Cahir, Roscrea, Youghal and Killorglin from as soon as September.”
“It illustrates the government’s lack of support for a rural banking model. In turn, this means Ireland will be left without a functioning retail banking network unless policies change to ensure the banking sector is properly regulated and controlled. Thus, this deliberate action cannot go unanswered, and that is why the Dail must be immediately recalled to debate these issues.”
“This latest downgrading – the refusal of cash and cheques at 70 branches – represents further reductions in rural banking services. This action will likely lead to the closure of those branches soon.”
“The withdrawal of cash services, by a predominantly government-owned bank (63.5%), is another kick in the teeth to rural communities. While many consumers use cashless payments, others still prefer to use cash for ALL transactions, many of whom have zero access to digital money.”
“Even the Central Bank acknowledges that cash remains crucial for both economic functions and social inclusion. Yet, the top brass bankers and the Minister for Finance ignore this, giving rural towns and the socially vulnerable, such as elderly or lower income groups, the ‘two fingers’”.
“Cash services are also crucial to SMEs and farmers, who rely on depositing cash in banks for security.”
“AIB was rescued during the bank bailout by an approximate €21 billion price tag, with taxpayers footing the bill. Instead of gratitude, the bank ignores the taxpayers and prioritizes profits with the full support of their ‘friend’ the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donoghue.”
“The failure of the government to protect the public’s interests means that AIB alone was allowed to close 75 branches across the State since 2008. Now, the bank is being permitted to effectively close another 70 of its remaining 170 branches.”
“Advice for customers to use the limited services available through the post office is completely misleading, as the An Post network faces its own ongoing contraction, also due to government failure.”
“It is incredibly selfish of AIB to proceed with this latest downgrading, at a time when it is vying for some of the one million new customers available because of KBC and Ulster Bank’s withdrawals.”
“Minister Donohue ignored our calls earlier this year for a fully frank Dail debate on the future of AIB and the services it provides. Today, we again call on the Minister to make a public statement on why he is allowing the bank to deliberately decrease rural services.”
“The public deserves transparency and access to banking services. Currently, due to the neglect and scheming actions of the government, the public is being denied both,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.
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