Financial Services Union calling on Bank of Ireland to reconsider branch closures

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Bank of Ireland is to appear before an Oireachtas Finance Committee this afternoon.

THE FINANCIAL SERVICES Union (FSU) has called on Bank of Ireland to reconsider its position on branch closures ahead of the bank’s appearance before an Oireachtas Committee today. 

Earlier this month, Bank of Ireland announced plans to close 88 branches in Ireland and a further 15 in Northern Ireland. 

The bank said no branches will close in the next six months with the closures set to begin from September. 

It also said a new partnership with An Post will offer customers access to a range of banking services at over 900 locations. This will include withdrawing cash and making cash and cheque lodgements. 

The FSU is seeking clarity on whether Bank of Ireland has conducted an impact assessment on local communities of the proposed branch closures and whether the bank has considered the possible closure of post offices in its plans to provide services to communities where they are closing the local branch. 

It is also asking Bank of Ireland to outline its strategy on closing the gender pay gap and to confirm whether it is replaced permanent staff who availed of voluntary redundancy with temporary staff. 

The FSU claims there are “many unanswered questions” that Bank of Ireland needs to answer and called for clarity to brought at the bank’s appearance before the Oireachtas Finance Committee later today. 

Bank of Ireland Group CEO Francesca McDonagh is set to tell the Committee that the closure of branches and the partnership with An Post “reflects the reality that we have reached an inescapable tipping point in customer preference between online and offline banking”. 

McDonagh will tell the committee that she has seen the branch announcement “interpreted as the bank using reduced footfall caused by the pandemic as an excuse to close branches”, which she says “is not the case”. 

She will outline that customer trends have been “moving in one direction every since the advent of mobile technology and online banking”. 

McDonagh will acknowledge that the changes “can be of concern” to some customers, especially those living or working in rural communities.

She will tell the Committee that the bank has started to “directly contact” customers who are considered vulnerable to talk through any challenges they may face. 

Bank of Ireland is set to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee at 3.30pm today.

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