Bank's mobile units make their final run

They have braved Atlantic storms and blinding rain, but the west basked in a hint of summer yesterday as the Bank of Ireland'…

They have braved Atlantic storms and blinding rain, but the west basked in a hint of summer yesterday as the Bank of Ireland's mobile units made their final run through Connemara.

The two mobile units travelled through Barna, Spiddal, Inverin, Casla, Carraroe, Clifden and Roundstone before returning to base in Galway city and Clifden.

Even as the branches conducted their final transactions, Bank of Ireland officials met Connemara residents and local politicians.

The bank delegation was not for turning, however, and a spokesman said the company's decision would not be reversed. Falling customer numbers due to alternative methods of banking, health and safety, security and the cost of replacing the mobile fleet have been cited by the bank as the main reasons for the decision to end the service after a quarter of a century.


The spokesman said it had held discussions with a number of groups, and the Minister of State and Galway West TD, Mr Frank Fahey, understood the situation. A temporary helpline number was one of several arrangements being made to help customers deal with the transition.

Mr Fahey said he had been informed that it could cost €400,000 to replace the bank's four vehicles, and the income from the service did not justify this.

However, he queried the "security" concerns raised by the bank. The Bank of Ireland confirmed that no mobile bank had been robbed, but said the risk was always there as it carried cash. It was unable to give precise figures for the drop in customers using the mobile units.

Mr Fahey's delegation included local politicians from all parties and representatives of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

The Gaeltacht development board is under pressure to close its accounts with the Bank of Ireland if the bank can no longer guarantee a service to rural communities.

The mobile units' final run through Mayo took place on Thursday, with similar appeals from local representatives for a change of heart. Allied Irish Banks still provides a mobile service in Achill and Louisburgh in Mayo, and Leenane on the Galway-Mayo border, and it has been asked to extend this by a Fianna Fáil councillor for Co Galway, Ms Connie Ní Fhatharta.

The Irish League of Credit Unions has also been asked by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr Ó Cuív, to come up with alternative proposals to facilitate customers in isolated rural areas.

The last tranche in a petition of over 3,000 signatures expressing opposition to the mobile bank withdrawal was handed in to bank officials in Galway yesterday.

The delegation of 13 community groups was led by Mr Jim Larkin, a PD local election candidate and member of the Coiste Phobail Ros a Mhíl.