FOREIGN exchange and coin services will no longer be available in Bank of Ireland in Dunmanway as the branch moves to a more automated banking service.
In a statement released to The Southern Star this week, Bank of Ireland (BoI) confirmed that the branch counter services will no longer be available in Dunmanway, with lodgement and withdrawal options now available through in-branch machines.
The move has been slammed by newly-elected County Mayor Declan Hurley, and FF Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.
The bank says the change is in response to a falling demand for over-the-counter services. ‘When we look at trends over time within a branch’s catchment area and see a consistent decrease in counter activity, we reconfigure the branch to support how our customers are using it,’ a BoI spokesperson said.
It added that the Dunmanway branch will be adopting the ‘Advice & Self-Service’ model, where staff will move from behind the counter onto the floor. ‘Customers will continue to be provided with a comprehensive range of products and services, the ability to lodge and withdraw cash from easy to use self-service devices and access to online and 365 phone services.’
It said the self-service branch would allow ‘greater availability of branch staff to provide personalised financial and banking advice’. ‘While foreign currency exchange and coin transaction services will no longer be available in the branches, cash services are available through the self-service options in-branch,’ the spokesperson added.
The bank is investing €10m in revamping branches, including the installation of 90 new eLATM’s (External Lodgement and ATMs), including one outside the branch in Dunmanway.
‘Implementation of these changes is taking place on a phased basis with a two-month period for comprehensive customer notification. Bank of Ireland is committed to supporting vulnerable and elderly customers and a dedicated team provides additional support in the use of our digital and self-service options – 30,000 customers attended these “Tea and Teach” sessions last year,’ the statement claimed.
A spokesperson confirmed that Dunmanway is the only branch in West Cork adopting this model. ‘Bandon, Bantry, Clonakilty, Kinsale, Macroom and Skibbereen branches are moving to a five-day morning counter service, with staff available on the floor for the afternoon,’ the bank added.
New County Mayor and Dunmanway local Cllr Declan Hurley said he was very ‘disappointed’ with the decision. ‘I would be very concerned that introducing such a system will have a serious negative impact on local businesses in the town as they deal in coins on a daily basis. I also believe that moving to a “no counter service” will be a great inconvenience to the general public, who expect and prefer a face-to-face service in the bank,’ he said.
‘I am calling on Bank of Ireland to seriously reconsider introducing such an unfriendly method of banking for its customers and I call on them to show more loyalty to the town and community that has supported them for the past 113 years.’
Cork South West TD Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony agreed, saying the move was another example of ‘rural Ireland being hollowed out’, and that the government’s ‘inability to see past the M50 risks destroying rural communities in West Cork’.
‘Rural Ireland’s death from a thousand cuts with successive reductions in services, both public and private, is happening right now. This decision by Bank of Ireland will do untold damage to the town,’ she said. ‘Automating every service cannot be the response to every challenge.’
She has written to BoI chief Richie Boucher, requesting the decision be reversed.