THE government should intervene in the sale of Bank of Ireland buildings to ensure they are not sold on the open market.
That’s according to Cllr Bernard Moynihan (FF) who was speaking during a suspension of standing orders at an online meeting of the local authority recently where the closures were discussed.
‘These building should not be flogged on the open market and they could be used for post offices and help them with expanding their services and this is our opportunity to help them to grow,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
‘We should ask Bank of Ireland to extend their time span to two years to allow this to happen. There needs to be engagement with the bank and the government on this,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
The Southern Star has reported that Bank of Ireland could make €600,000 from the proposed sale of its branches in Dunmanway and Bantry.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) ‘slammed’ a reply from the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe in response to a letter from the members of the West Cork Municipal District. Mr Donohoe stated that the ‘Minister for Finance has no role in the commercial decisions made by any bank in the State.’
‘I am shocked and dismayed that a response would be issued by the minister when the government has a 14% shareholding in the Bank of Ireland,’ said Cllr Hurley.
‘The bank has slowly and sneakily reduced their bank services so they now have the reasons to justify the closures they announced last week.’
Cllr Hurley called on the bank to show ‘more loyalty’ to these towns and the wider community that have supported them for the past 117 years.
Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF) said that not all bank customers use online facilities and said for the bank to say that An Post will pick all this up in six month’s is ‘unrealistic.’
‘We are also losing ATM facilities which we thought would remain afterwards,’ said Cllr Kelly.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) described the response from the Minister as ‘total and utter disgrace.’
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) called for a ‘stay of execution’ on the decision to close so as to ensure a ‘seamless transfer’ of services to the post offices.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said he was ‘appalled but not surprised’ by the decision and pointed out that services started to be reduced a few years ago, while Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said it was important that post masters are adequately rewarded for these new services.
‘We need alternative banking mechanisms as multinationals are only interested in big banking and we have the opportunity to shape the future,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Councillors agreed they would write to both the Bank of Ireland and the Department of Finance to seek more answers on the planned closures.