The closure of Ulster Bank's Kilcormac branch may lead to other businesses in the town folding, independent councillor John Leahy has warned.
Today (Thursday) Ulster Bank confirmed its intention to close five branches and six sub-offices in the Republic of Ireland by May of this year. The bank announced proposals for 950 job losses last January. The latest move, which is part of Ulster Bank's branch footprint review, will lead to no additional job losses according to the bank.
Ulster Bank branches set to close by May include Castlepollard in Westmeath; Killeshandra, Kilnaleck and Belturbet in Cavan, and Glenamaddy in Galway. Sub offices in Swanlinbar, Co Cavan; Rathangan, Co Kildare; Delvin, Co Westmeath; Kilcormac, Co Offaly; Carrigallen, Co Leitrim and Kilkelly, Co Mayo are also set for closure. A statement from the bank said customers of branches set to close will be contacted with information of alternative branch locations in their area.
Speaking to the Offaly Independent in the wake of today's announcement Cllr Leahy said rural Ireland is "suffering majorly". "It just seems to be a trend," he said, referring to services including libraries, fire services and garda stations and hours being cut in rural areas. "Some small areas are getting it hard to retain a post office," he added.
Cllr Leahy said even a small number of people using the banking service make a difference in Kilcormac. "People come into the bank and then spend a few euro in the shop," he said. "If they're banking in the bigger town it's the easiest thing in the world to do their shopping in the bigger town.
"Businesses are getting it hard to stay open," he continued. "You could have a small shop closing down on the back of this."