Jennifer Whitmore TD

Vulnerable customers and local businesses have been greatly impacted by the erosion of banking services 

The Minister for Finance should direct AIB to end the practice of operating cashless branches in parts of the country, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Deputy Whitmore made her comments after it emerged that all public bodies are to be instructed to continue to accept cash when people are paying for services.

She said:

“The recent attempt by NCT operator Applus to move to a cashless payment system was understandably met with widespread opposition and has thankfully resulted in a U-turn.

“I welcome reports that Minister Michael McGrath now intends to ensure that all public bodies will continue to accept cash.

“However, this is completely at odds with the Government’s hands-off approach when it comes to confronting AIB on its decision to make several of its branches around the country cashless. Local communities were dealt a double blow in 2021 when 15 banks were closed by AIB and more than 20 branches went cashless.

“While a proposal by AIB to make a further 70 branches cashless last year was stopped in its tracks after a public backlash, the bank did not reverse its decision for the 22 branches originally affected.

“This is an issue that has greatly impacted vulnerable bank customers in parts of the country, including Blessington in my own Wicklow constituency. Along with the closure of Ulster Bank in the village earlier this year, financial services for residents and businesses in the area have been seriously eroded, with customers having to rely on An Post for their daily banking needs.

“I recently met with AIB to outline my concerns but they did not indicate a willingness to change their policy for existing cashless branches

“Given that the State has a 47 per cent stake in AIB, I am calling on the Minister to instruct the bank to put plans in place to restore cash services to affected branches.”

September 20, 2023

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