THE Drimoleague credit union office is slated to close on Friday, November 30th next.
Fianna Fáil TD, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony confirmed that customers of the service – which is run by Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union – have been informed, in writing, that the office at Main Street, Drimoleague, is to close.
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said: ‘The government had given a commitment to enhance financial services and rural Ireland and, by allowing the closure of the credit union office in Drimoleague, they failed on both counts.’
She maintained that the government should be providing the necessary supports to keep such facilities open. Instead, she said the government is ‘standing back and allowing the wholesale closure of services, such as our post offices, smaller bank branches, and now our credit union offices.’
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said: ‘How often do we hear the gardaí warning people in rural areas not to keep cash in their homes?
‘In a village, like Drimoleague, that doesn’t have a bank, and is about to lose its one-day a week access to its credit union accounts, what are people expected to do?
‘The irony continues,’ she said, ‘because the customers are being encouraged to use the branch in Skibbereen, but Drimoleague does not have a direct bus service to Skibbereen.
‘It’s appalling. Here is a village that is being undermined on a systematic basis despite the fact that the residents are working hard to keep local business open, organise local festivals, and improve the appearance of the village.’
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony raised the issue with Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar in the Dáil this week under the Order of Business, but the Taoiseach said the government was not to blame.
‘I was disappointed with his response,’ said Deputy Murphy O’Mahony, ‘but I am hoping that a solution can be found before the end of November.’
Independent TD Michael Collins said he, too, had made numerous representations to Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union but is ‘still awaiting a call-back.’
Donal O’Driscoll, the chief executive of Muintir Skibbereen Credit Union Ltd, said: ‘Following an independent review of the branch, it was found that extensive technical works were necessary to make the premises comply with current regulations for a financial institution and that based on substantial costs and the level of transactions over recent years, the board had to take the difficult decision to close the sub-office.’
He added: ‘We are confident that our members can be accommodated through our Skibbereen office and we will work with them to assist with this change in the coming weeks. Alternatively,’ he said, ‘they could use An Post’s current account facility to make a transfer to their credit union account in Skibbereen.’