A call is being made to people living in rural parts of Clare to come together to fight against the feared removal of banking services.
It comes amid local fears that the Bank of Ireland branches in Tulla, Miltown Malbay and Kilkee will not re-open, after being closed at the start of the pandemic.
The Bank says no decision has yet been made.
Bank of Ireland closed 101 of its branches nationwide in March, to prioritise service at 161 larger locations throughout the pandemic.
Three in Clare, namely Tulla, Kilkee and Miltown Malbay, are among those that have been closed since.
When asked about re-opening the branches, Bank of Ireland told Clare FM it “cannot be definitive” on their next steps, but says they are closely monitoring all developments.
The bank has also highlighted the shift to online banking as having an effect on businesses, as well as the difficulties of implementing social distancing.
But Tulla resident and former Clare Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley says that argument just doesn’t stand up, and he fears there’s a real risk that all three branches will never open their doors again.
Those who use the Tulla branch would have to travel to Scariff or Ennis instead for in-branch banking services, and it’s feared that they could bring business out of the town with such a move.
Anne McNamara is one of the organisers of a petition calling on the Bank to re-open – it’s received over 1,000 signatures.
She feels the bank is putting profit before people.
In West Clare, a former Town Mayor of Kilkee fears that without a bank available for lodging cash, businesses will be left wide open for theft.
AIB closed it’s Kilkee branch in 2012, and Lily Marrinan-Sullivan is concerned that there will be a repeat of that situation with Bank of Ireland now.
She says the area usually boasts a low-crime rate, but believes that if it is felt that businesses may be holding large amounts of cash, they could be targeted by criminals.
Michael Glynn, Clare FM, first for local news.