BY JACKIE KEOGH,
& EMMA CONNOLLY
BANK of Ireland could make at least €600,000 from the proposed sale of its branches in Dunmanway and Bantry, after the shock closure announcements this week.
The buildings in the West Cork towns are wholly owned by Bank of Ireland which has confirmed they will both be sold shortly. Local estate agents estimate the Dunmanway building could come to market with an asking price of €250,000 while in Bantry it could be in the region of €350-€400,000.
The Bank of Ireland closures follow a recent announcement that the Ulster Bank in Bandon is also to close.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said it was a ‘black day’ for the towns and at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District appealed for the banks to be kept open on a rotating basis so that people would have access to their bank two or three out of every five days.
‘This is a dagger blow that shows total and utter disregard for the people of West Cork.’
He said the Bantry branch – of which he is a customer – is very busy because it serves a large hinterland from Bantry to Allihies.
‘We bailed out this bank in 2010 and now to have two in such close proximity is devastating.’
The West Cork closures are among nine in Cork, and 103 nationally, which the bank said was in response to banking ‘trends’. It said footfall at the closing branches is down an average of around 60% since 2017, while digital usage has increased by one third. It is now entering a partnership with An Post to provide banking services locally.
However, Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF) pointed out: ‘Bantry is deemed central enough to have a Covid-19 vaccination centre but not enough to have a bank.’
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said: ‘It beggars belief how Dunmanway can be earmarked for closure. It is such a central town, you’d imagine it would be pivotal.’
He said: ‘I am not sure if we can reverse it. It is going to have a very negative effect on business. Customers will have go to Bandon, Macroom or Skibbereen and these towns will get their business.’
Cork South West Ind TD Michael Collins said both branches were well supported by the people, from Ballineen to the Beara peninsula, and described the move as another blow to rural Ireland. Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said it was a ‘flawed decision’ and is seeking clarity from the Minister for Finance to see if government can exercise any powers incurred by its 14% share in the bank, to intervene in the decision.