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Downgrading of AIB branches a regressive move that disproportionately affects rural communities and vulnerable customers – Pat Buckley TD

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Sinn Féin TD for Cork East, Pat Buckley has said that the announcement by AIB that it will turn 70 of its 170 branches into cashless outlets will disproportionately impact rural communities and vulnerable customers when it comes to accessing basic banking services.

The changes will see cash, cheque and ATM services removed from 70 branches across the state, the majority of which are in rural towns.

Teachta Buckley said:

“This decision will remove all access to cash, cheque, foreign exchange and ATM services from these branches.

“At a time when many are already struggling to navigate a rapidly changing banking sector, this is a move that shows no regard to rural communities, to the elderly or to vulnerable customers.

“AIB has tried to justify reducing services on the grounds of reduced use by consumers.

“That is a cynical argument by a bank – bailed out by the public little more than a decade ago – that they cannot hide behind as it does not take into consideration the impact the pandemic had on consumers using face-to-face services.

“The Central Bank has noted the importance that cash continues to play in our economy and for social inclusion.

“Accessing cash is a fairly basic service provided by any bank, and the loss of these services will severely impact customers and businesses.

“ Customers in Youghal and Cobh will now have to travel to neighbouring towns to access a branch with full cash services. That is unacceptable.

“This is no way to treat customers. I acknowledge that AIB is expanding their relationship with An Post but this is clearly not a solution in itself.

“This is yet another example of why we need to have a national conversation about how banking operates in this state, especially for vulnerable or isolated customers in this digital age, and for people living in rural communities.”

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