Another blow for bank customers in Leitrim

From the end of September, only two county bank branches will offer full cash services to customers and both will be based in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Yesterday (Tuesday July 19), AIB made the shocking announcement that it was changing 70 of its 170 branches to cashless operations. Ballinamore is included in the list of branches due to change.

From September 30, the AIB Ballinamore branch, the only bank in town, will no longer offer cash and check services over the counter, or via machines inside the branch.

This means that from this date the Ballinamore branch will no longer have notes, coins, cheques, exchange supply, bank drafts; and remove all safes and night safes.

The ATM outside the branch, the only street location in town, will also be removed as part of the changes.

The move was widely condemned, following the closure of branches of the Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.

Last year, the Bank of Ireland closed its branches in Manorhamilton and Drumshanbo, leading to the loss of the two towns’ only high street ATMs. Both ATMs have since been replaced following the intervention of local credit unions.

In December last year, Manorhamilton’s only remaining bank, AIB, ceased operating its cashier service, but unlike the Ballinamore branch, AIB customers in Manorhamilton can still use the cash machines and checks from the bank to deposit cash and checks and withdraw money.

But it’s not just Leitrim who are affected by the changes, they are also impacting our neighboring counties of Longford and Donegal.

In the town of Longford, the AIB Main Street branch will go cashless from October 21. AIB notes that the nearest branch with full cash services will be Roscommon.

In Donegal, the Ballyshannon branch will see changes introduced from September 30. From this date the nearest branch with full treasury services will be Donegal Town.

Announcing the changes, AIB said the decision was based on “declining levels of use of cash and check transactions, and an increase in the popularity of non-cash alternatives such as digital and card payments”.

“The cost of cash security and management has also increased,” they noted.

They specify that, in branches moving to cashless facilities, staff will still be available to answer questions and help “customers open an account, buy a new home, take out a business or personal loan, or save or invest their money.

Kiosk Banking and Phone Banking services will still be available at branches.

The AIB also highlights the expansion of a range of day-to-day banking services available at post offices.

Under the An Post agreement, AIB customers will be able to withdraw up to €1,500 in cash per day and deposit up to €5,000 in cash per week, while businesses will be able to deposit up to to €50,000 by prior agreement with the post office, while all customers will be able to deposit checks in euros into their accounts. Payment of bills and currencies will also be available via An Post.

However, local politicians described the changes as a “terrible blow” to customers.

Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council, Cllr Ita Reynolds-Flynn said she was shocked by the news and deeply concerned about the impact of the changes in towns like Ballinamore.

Cllr Caillian Ellis said it was a ‘terrible blow’ pointing out that ‘these banks were saved by taxpayers and now they are taking services away from their branches. It’s just not good enough,’ he said declared.