Bank of Ireland’s decision to phase out some of its Irish language ATM services has been criticised for abandoning a section of the public despite having previously come “cap in hand” for a taxpayers’ bailout.
The bank has said the move is part of an ongoing upgrading of machines and was prompted by a blatant lack of interest in the service - less than one per cent of customers select the Irish language user option.
Former Fianna Fail Gaeltacht Affairs minister and prominent gaeilgeoir Éamon Ó Cuív noted on twitter that while Bank of Ireland "came cap in hand for the taxpayers support now it's refusing to service Irish speakers on their ATMs. Shame on them!"
In a statement, Labour Party spokesman on an Ghaeilge, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, said he was disappointed at the decision.
“For many years, this Irish language option has been a very welcome addition to banking services in this country and its removal shows very little regard for those who use the Irish language daily and live in Gaeltacht areas,” he said.
“The latest Census figures tell us that 190,276 people speak Irish every week. Initiatives like being able to take out cash as Gaeilge are a novel way of inserting the Irish language into our daily lives.”
Bank of Ireland did not respond to these comments but had previously stated it was replacing older branch based ATMs with modern lodgement and withdrawal machines in a protracted process beginning in 2010.
“These LATM devices do not offer an option to transact in Irish. This is due to the fact that, when we analyse our ATMs which provide an Irish option fewer than 1 per cent of ATM transactions on those devices are completed in Irish,” the bank said.
“It has not been viable to provide an Irish language option on these newer devices.”
However, the bank has continued the service on ATMs in retail spaces and on some branch versions. It has also pointed out that it is the only bank to do so.
The bank also said it supported its Irish-speaking customers by providing some key services in the language such as chequebooks, and withdrawal and lodgement dockets.