'People power works': AIB U-turn welcomed in Cork

The company released a statement on Friday saying they have decided not to proceed with the proposed changes to its bank services.
'People power works': AIB U-turn welcomed in Cork

The AIB Bank in Cobh which along with another 11 AIB branches in Cork will not be going cashless following a reversal of its decision by the company on Friday morning.

CORK business owners and politicians have welcomed the decision taken by AIB not to proceed with the planned changes to its banking services.

The company earlier this week announced plans to make 70 branches nationwide cashless, including branches in Bishopstown, Carrigaline, Glanmire, and Western Rd; as well as from Castletownbere, Cobh, Dunmanway, Kinsale, Kanturk, Millstreet, Mitchelstown, and Youghal.

However, following a huge political and public backlash the company released a statement on Friday saying they have decided not to proceed with the proposed changes to its bank services. 

“In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the use of digital banking services and a decline in branch visits and cash usage. It was in the context of this evolving banking environment that AIB took the decision to remove cash services from 70 of its branches.

"However, recognising the customer and public unease that this has caused, AIB has decided not to proceed with the proposed changes to its bank services. The bank continues to retain its 170-strong branch network in its entirety.” 

Cork city VFI Chairperson Michael O’Donovan said the news is a ‘huge relief’. 

“It is very welcome news. For the south side of the city losing both Bishopstown and Western Road would have been a disaster for small and medium businesses especially bars that use a lot of change, but more so for our colleagues in places such as Castletownbere, Cobh, Youghal, and Mitchelstown. It is a big day for them as the bank is the heartbeat of their towns.

“It gives a lot of certainty to a town when there is a bank there. It is a huge relief for those towns."

"Talking to my colleagues, there was a lot of worry and concern about what would happen. Thank God they have reversed their decision and there is certainty,” he added.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East, James O’Connor also welcomed the decision by AIB to halt their plans to move 70 local branches to a cashless service. 

“There was widespread concern and deep disappointment when AIB announced plans to stop providing cash at many local branches across the country. I am pleased that AIB has now decided to change strategy. I will work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the voices of those most vulnerable are heard and they get all the support they need.” 

Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the decision taken by AIB shows that ‘people power’ works. 

“It shows that people power works. They have forced the banks and the government to listen. I welcome that they have been forced to listen. Cash is crucial for businesses that are cash-heavy such as pubs and restaurants. It is also crucial for the elderly, the vulnerable, and for different groups who rely on cash.

“We will be seeking to ensure that a proposal like this never comes back on the table. We need to ensure that services like this remain in communities across Cork city and county,” he added.

“I’m delighted that sense has prevailed, and the people were listened to,” said Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard. 

Senator Lombard said a cashless society could not work and a balance needs to be maintained. 

“This will be welcome news for the people and businesses in Kinsale, Dunmanway, and Castletownbere, as well as the wider West Cork communities serviced by these towns."

"We know that online banking has become more prevalent, but it is not acceptable for our rural and more remote towns and villages to be solely reliant on this system."

“We are seeing an incremental change in the technology and online environment. We can move with the times, but a cashless society cannot work, there needs to be a balance,” he added.

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