A south Armagh councillor says he will double down on community concerns over the closure of the Bank of Ireland’s Crossmaglen branch.
SDLP Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne says the bank is failing to listen to local representatives “who know their area and understands local community need”.
Councillor Byrne had spoken with Bank of Ireland’s Managing Director earlier this month in what he described as a “productive meeting” only to be told subsequently that the closure was “a done deal”.
“I am disappointed to have received further correspondence, where a number of the proposals I tabled to retain banking services in Crossmaglen, were rejected,” said Councillor Byrne.
“I am now directly calling on the Bank of Ireland to review its decision to close the Crossmaglen branch which will be a devastating blow to the local community, businesses and the local economy.”
He added: “Last week the Bank of Ireland’s Chief Executive spoke at a joint Oireachtas Committee and claimed that she would only consider closing branches if there wasn’t a seismic increase in the demand for digital services.
“If there was genuine engagement with local businesses in Crossmaglen, she would have found that this isn’t the case for my community. Crossmaglen is affected by rural isolation, poor broadband and mobile phone coverage.
“There is a serious disconnect between those who run the Bank of Ireland and those businesses and communities who rely on the services of our local branch. Where is the acknowledgement and respect for our concerns?
“In a week where Bank of Ireland reported that three executives were paid over £1 million each last year, serious questions need to be asked about their commitment to local communities where branch operating costs are a drop in the ocean in comparison.
“It is concerning that a bank of this size which has a responsibility to ensure economic growth and stability has not only failed to consult local communities but it failing to listen to local representatives who know their area and understands local community needs. To hear this closure described as a ‘done deal’ is a devastating blow to Crossmaglen.
“I have another meeting arranged with the Bank of Ireland Managing Director after Easter and I will be doubling down on all the concerns the people I represent have raised with me.
“Changes may be inevitable in the future but the bank has a duty to listen directly to those affected and make a decision based on the reality faced by local people and businesses.”