Irwin says rural branches ‘vital’

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Saturday, July 6th, 2013
Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin has spoken of his concern following an announcement by Ulster Bank that it is to close 39 rural branches and also shed around 1800 jobs across its Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland facilities.

DUP MLA William Irwin

Information received by the Finance Minister Sammy Wilson suggests that closures in Northern Ireland will be in the “single figures” however Irwin said the threat to rural branches was “a worry”. Back in January Irwin wrote to Ulster Bank Chief Executive Jim Brown following an announcement of 11 branch closures across Northern Ireland. Prior to the finalisation of the closures Irwin made a strong case that the Tandragee Branch should be retained given the fact the local Danske Bank in Tandragee had closed. Irwin received an assurance by letter that the Tandragee Branch was not one of the 11 branches earmarked for closure. Irwin has again contacted Ulster Bank following the latest announcements and stated, “This is a really important issue for local people including local businesses and indeed the local agriculture sector, particularly in this rural constituency.” “We have lost three banks in the area, first the Danske Bank in Tandragee then the facility in Markethill and also a bank in Keady. This stripping of resources has a real impact on our rural areas and people are being significantly inconvenienced having to travel greater distances to use banking services in other towns.” “Whilst no decision has been made public on what branches will close, I have rang the offices of the Chief Executive of Ulster Bank and again expressed my concerns over these current closure plans for Northern Ireland. “I have also stated my opposition to any possible future attempts to remove the Ulster Bank services from Tandragee, Armagh or Newry. Ulster Bank has assured me that I will receive a full response on these concerns and I await their reply.” Irwin added, “Rural areas need these banking facilities and whilst the decision to close banks and shed staff is being justified by Bank bosses in a bid to return to profitability and promote online banking, they cannot ignore their responsibilities to the local community in providing accessible banking services. “I will continue to make representations to Ulster Bank on the importance of local rural branches.”
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