Allied Irish Banks (AIB) will close 15 branches before the end of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ‘relentless’ shift to online banking.
The bank said on Tuesday it had completed a “detailed strategic review” due to changes in the way customers interact with banks, a trend which “has been accelerated” by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Following the relentless evolution of customer preference for digital banking services in recent years, AIB announces the merger of 15 branches across the country by December of this year,” he said.
The vast majority of closures take place in urban and suburban areas, mainly in Dublin and Cork. AIB said the average distance to a receiving branch would be 2.2 km. AIB will have 170 branches remaining after the closures.
This decision was strongly criticized by the Financial Services Union (FSU). Group general secretary John O’Connell said the branch network was “being destroyed”.
“We will emerge from the pandemic without a functioning bank branch network and with local communities and small businesses without vital banking facilities,” he said.
“AIB today announced the closure of 15 branches across the country, including six in Cork. They also announced the closure of the AIB branch on O’Connell Street in Dublin.
“The branch network is being destroyed without a word of concern expressed by the governor of the Central Bank who is responsible for consumer protection.
“We know that when the Bank of Ireland announced the closure of 88 branches, the governor of the central bank did not even meet with the bank to discuss the matter.
“We call on the governor to immediately meet with the BOI and AIB and ask them to suspend any branch closures until society and the economy reopen and a full debate takes place on the future of services. banking in Ireland. “
AIB said the closures will be phased in, starting in September, and that there will be no mandatory layoffs. The bank will communicate the contact details to customers, who “do not need to take any action”.
FSU said there was a “social obligation” for banks to help struggling SMEs recover from the pandemic, but said it was “clear that our two main banks have placed additional profits. before their societal obligations “.
He accused banks of using the pandemic “as a cover” to cut vital services to communities across the country.
“The FSU called for a banking forum where all of these proposals could be discussed,” he said.
“If the Minister of Finance continues to procrastinate on the establishment of a banking forum, we will see that the network of agencies will already have disappeared before any forum is set up.
“The Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank must jointly tell the banks that their actions undermine the chances of a successful reopening of the economy and cause enormous levels of stress to staff, businesses and local communities. “
AIB cited negative interest rates and “competition from non-traditional lenders” when announcing the closures, which it said were “another step towards securing a sustainable future for the branch network. AIB “.
AIB Managing Director for Retail Banking, Jim O’Keeffe, said the group “remains committed” to maintaining a strong presence in communities.
“However, inevitably and in line with changing banking and customer needs, we see a requirement to evolve our services to customers,” he said.
“We’re seeing this in overall digital use, with customers interacting with our app more than 1.54 million times per day, compared to just 35,000 daily branch visits. This convenience at our customers’ fingertips means they use fewer limbs.
Complete list of closures:
College Road (Cork)
Blackrock Road (Cork)
Small Island (Cork)
North Main Street (Cork)
Ennis Road (Limerick)
Douglas Court (Cork)
Golden Isle (Westmeath)
O’Connell Street (Dublin)
Newcastle Road (Galway)