Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says the closure of the Ulster Bank branch in Ballyhaunis this Friday and the loss of cash services in Bank of Ireland branches across Mayo must act as a wake-up call for Government to intervene and ensure that cash and banking services are provided in towns in rural areas.

Deputy Calleary explained, “Recent decisions by Ulster Bank to close 22 branches across the country and Bank of Ireland removing over the counter services from around 100 outlets is having a huge impact on customers, here in Mayo and right around Ireland.

“The Ulster Bank branch in Ballyhaunis is due to close its doors on Friday leaving its personal and business customers high and dry.  Despite the fact the closure is only days away, there are still no details about what mobile services will be delivered to customers in Ballyhaunis and its surrounding areas.  This closure, combined with the loss of an AIB branch a few years ago, and Bank of Ireland’s decision to reduce over the counter and cash services, is a major inconvenience for bank customers.

“Banking services in rural areas are being eroded year on year and there is an urgent need for this situation to be addressed, particularly for people living in rural areas.  These cutbacks present an opportunity for the Government to intervene to allocate the powers and resources to our Post Office and Credit Union network to provide the cash services that commercial banks no longer consider important.

“Post Offices need to expand their services to ensure their viability and Credit Unions already have a wealth of financial expertise to cope with providing additional cash facilities.  Not only would this proposal breathe life back into these institutions, it would ensure that these essential services are available in every town across the country.

“Towns like Ballyhaunis will suffer as a result of the loss of these banking services.  People will be forced to travel to other towns to do their business, with older people and farmers being disproportionately affected.  We cannot stand by and do nothing when there are credible options, which could be considered, to ensure that people’s banking and financial needs are provided in the town”.