Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford Mary Butler has written to the Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland calling for assurances that branches closed during the COVID-19 pandemic will be reopened as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.

Many smaller bank branches have been forced to shut during the public health emergency and locals are concerned that they may not reopen.

Deputy Butler explained, “Banking services are so important to towns and villages across Waterford, particularly now that moves are being made for the gradual reopening of shops and certain businesses. Since this pandemic began, I have been raising the concerns of residents and businesses in Lismore and Kilmacthomas following the temporary closure of the Bank of Ireland branches there.

“Now that the reopening roadmap has been published, I would like clarity from Bank of Ireland as to when it envisages the reopening of its branches in Waterford, and across the country.

“I know that locals have worked around the current arrangements, but withdrawal and lodgement facilities are obviously crucial to communities and serious issues can arise when the ATMs run out of cash or are out of service. People in Lismore have had to travel either 25km to Dungarvan or 27k to Fermoy to lodge money over the past two months.

“There is a growing unease among locals that these temporary closures could be used as a means of closing the branches permanently as part of a larger restructuring plan within the bank. This must be avoided at all costs and I would like some assurances from Bank of Ireland that this is not the case.

“To date, any correspondence I have received has been vague at best. I have now written to the Chief Executive of the bank outlining my concerns and the concerns of residents and businesses in Lismore and I hope that she will be able to provide clarity on the issue”, concluded Deputy Butler.