BANK of Ireland has confirmed the closure of seven Limerick branch offices in Abbeyfeale, Askeaton, Bruff, Caherdavin, Rathkeale, Roxboro and University of Limerick Campus from September.
The bank says that footfall at the seven branches was down by an average of 60 per cent since 2017, while digital business increased by one third.
As part of a major restructure, 88 branches will close in September, leaving just 169 branches to serve communities across 26 counties.
This will be complemented by a new partnership with An Post, offering Bank of Ireland customers a limited range of services including cash and cheque lodgements, withdrawals, and balance enquiries.
Head of retail services Gavin Kelly said that Bank of Ireland was committed to Limerick and the closures would allow it invest in its other branches in the county as well as digital services.
“We have kept our branch network largely unchanged over the past decade but we’ve now reached a tipping point between online and offline banking. Technology is evolving, and customers are using branches less, year on year.
“Even before Covid-19, branch footfall had reduced by almost a quarter over two years. Our mobile app is our busiest channel, around 430,000 customers log in each day, and traffic is up one third since 2018.”
Mr Kelly added that the branch closures would be conducted “in a way that protects local access to physical banking for those who want it through a new partnership with An Post”.
The impact of the branch closures on Bank of Ireland staff was underlined by SIPTU trade union official Peadar Nolan who said members were shocked to hear of the closure of 15 branches in the North and 88 in Republic of Ireland.
He added that the announcement had come as a complete bolt out of the blue and at a time when staff were working tirelessly to ensure the network is operational and kept open for customers during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“We are calling on the bank to halt any plans to close these branches, particularly while staff and customers are trying to cope during the pandemic.
“We are seeking an immediate meeting with management to discuss this decision and will be seeking alternatives to the plan. We also want Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to intervene and protect the interests of staff and customers.
“This really is a major shock for our members, some who have been with the bank all of their working lives. The uncertainty created by this announcement is devastating,” Mr Nolan concluded.