Protests as AIB closes 44 branches
AIB YESTERDAY closed 44 of its bank branches across the country as part of efforts to return to profitability by 2014.
Local business organisations and community groups protested and handed in petitions against the closures in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and elsewhere,
The bailed out and State-controlled bank, which reported a loss of €1.1 billion for the first half of this year, aims to shut one in four branches by next year.
Four sub-offices and one banking branch will also be closed at AIB’s subsidiary First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland. The sub-offices have been operating on reduced opening hours; two of them open only two days a week.
This month three branches of AIB were closed permanently, and a further three branches in Dublin will be closed next month.
The branches being closed typically carried out about 20 per cent of the volume of transactions at other branches, according to AIB chief executive David Duffy.
The closures will not lead to compulsory redundancies, the bank said. Branches of EBS, now wholly owned by AIB, would not be affected by the move.
Services will be offered to customers of closed branches at 90 post offices through an extension of an arrangement with An Post.
Head of branch banking Denis O’Callaghan said many outlets had seen a decline in customer visits. The bank had noticed a “significant change” in the way customers do banking.
Branches in Rush, Schull, Tarbert, Moate, Waterville, Thomastown, Ballydehob, Cootehill and Dunboyne were among the branches that closed yesterday. Branches in Kilkee, Buttevant, Corbally, Dunshaughlin, Glin and Innishannon were also to be closed.
Some customers will have to do round trips of more than 40km to get to another AIB branch.
To coincide with the closures, AIB launched a mobile bank service in 32 locations across Ulster, Munster and Connacht.
Services include cash, cheque and coin lodgments, cash withdrawals, bill payments and foreign exchange orders and collections.
At the start of this month the bank increased its standard variable mortgage rate by 0.5 per cent to 4 per cent. The new rate, from November 13th, is expected to hit about 70,000 homeowners.
Business people in Moville, Co Donegal, handed a petition to the local AIB manager yesterday demanding that the bank overturn its decision to close the branch next year.
The East Inishowen Business Association collected 1,400 signatures from the local community and requested that local management forward their petition to AIB chairman David Hodgkinson.
Association vice-chairman Michael Doherty said: “Given that the citizens and taxpayers in Ireland now effectively own AIB, surely we are entitled to have some input into the future of the organisation and have this ludicrous proposal scrapped.”