Widespread anger after Warrenpoint First Trust bank closure announcement
Local political representatives have reacted with anger to the announcement that First Trust Bank will close half of its Northern Ireland branches in 2017.
With 15 of the bank’s 30 branches closing this year, around 130 jobs are at risk, including those in local branches.
The Warrenpoint branch is among those due to close and it is expected to shut its doors for the final time on 30th June 2017.
Sinn Féin Cllr. Sinéad Ennis said the planned closure of half of the First Trust bank branches will hit South Down particularly hard.
Speaking to Newry Times, Ennis said, “The announcement of local First Trust bank closures in Warrenpoint and Downpatrick will come as a shock to customers and staff alike. I urge First Trust to reconsider this decision immediately.”
“Bank branches provide a key service in many local communities for both small businesses and personal banking customers. The loss of these branches will be particularly keenly felt in rural areas with people having to travel longer distances to access a bank.
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“After making enquiries regarding Downpatrick and Warrenpoint branch closures, First Trust responded that customers can continue to avail of some banking services with through their local Post Office branch,” she added.
SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty described the decision by First Trust as a smack in the face for local people and has called on the Irish Government to intervene.
McNulty said, “The First Trust Bank in Armagh is vital to the city and sits on a landmark site in the city. This week’s announcement is a real body blow to the local area, not to mention the staff and customers of the bank. In recent years we have seen banks close rural banks but to close their Armagh City Branch is a bolt out of the blue.”
“I know the banks will tell us of the move to online banking, but not everyone can access online banking in this area. Large parts of the rural area around Armagh City has very poor broadband connectivity so this argument will not wash with me.”
“The local community are stunted by this announcement but I don’t think it’s one we should accept. The Irish Government, ultimately the taxpayer, is a major shareholder in First Trust and AIB, I am calling on the government to intervene and to force a review of this decision.
The local MLA added, “This is a real smack in the face for the local community and people are really angry.”
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