22 July 2022
By Tom Collins
Green Party Local Area Representative for the Bantry Bay Area, Liz Coakley Wakefield, has welcomed the announcement that AIB is to reverse its decision to move to cashless branches at 70 locations across the country. The decision, which was set to have impacted services in Castletownbere will not now go ahead after significant public and political pressure on the bank to reverse its decision.
Speaking shortly after AIB released its statement, Liz Coakley Wakefield stated;
“Communities and small towns rely heavily on these services, and the decision to move to cashless branches would have impacted older people and small businesses in particular. I had many constituents from the Castletownbere area on the Beara Peninsula reach out to me to tell me that they were facing a50 km journey to Bantry to access cash services, an unacceptable position in my view.
“We may be moving to a cashless society, and the pandemic has accelerated that move, but we’re not there yet. Pushing in that direction before people are ready for it, and I’m thinking of vulnerable people in particular, older people and people on lower fixed incomes, is not the level of customer service I would expect from one of our pillar banks.”
Green Party Spokesperson for Social Protection, Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD added;
“I’m glad that voices across government, who is still the majority shareholder in AIB, have come together to push back on what was a very poor decision.
“In the longer term, I think this very much strengthens the argument to develop a community banking sector along the lines of Kiwi Bank in New Zealand or the Sparkasse model in Germany. We have the makings of it here already, between our Post Office network and our Credit Unions. There will always be a role for commercial banking, but community banking would place a greater emphasis on community dividend than shareholder profit and protect us in the longer term from decisions that look good on a balance sheet but undermine small businesses and rural communities