Councilors suspend standing orders to hang AIB after cashless move and reversal

COUNCILORS spoke at this week’s meeting of the Cork County Council about the devastation and distress felt by people in their communities following the AIB announcement of the downgrade of several branches in Cork.

Aunt Mayor Danny Collins secured a suspension of standing orders to allow councilors to vent their anger at the decision announced on Tuesday and reversed within three days after a public and political outcry.

“It was shocking and I think we have to send a letter to the AIB – and the ministers concerned – saying what happened should never happen again,” Clerk Collins said.

“As a businessman myself, I can tell you that 75% of my business is in cash.”

Cllr Declan Hurley condemned the decision, saying how out of touch the government is with society. “What’s more scary is how out of touch the ministers are with their own departments if they have an official meeting on the board of the bank that has taken this decision and yet, four days before this decision, they could not act. .

“Rural communities cannot function in a cashless society – that is the bottom line.

“The government should wake up and act here.”

Issues such as internet connectivity must be taken into account, he said, adding how unlikely it was that many rural areas would have enough broadband.

Clerk Frank O’Flynn described the AIB’s decision as a ‘bolt from the blue’ and said it showed the AIB’s board was out of touch with the people of rural Ireland.

“They’re asking people to stay local and shop local and then the bank asks this – for me, that was a step too far.”

He described it as a ‘soft, bland approach towards complete closure’.

Clerk John Paul O’Shea talked about his disappointment upon hearing the news and, in particular, the impact it would have on his own area where branches in Contourk and Millstreet were set to go cashless.

“Bank of Ireland services in those cities were already withdrawn,” he said.

Cllr O’Shea suggested that more work be done now with the Post Office. “It doesn’t have to be one system or the other – a post has a good record of handling AIB and Bank of Ireland services.”

Clerk Gobneet Moynihan pointed to the effect that the removal of cash services from Millstreet would have had.

“This would have meant that Millstreet’s ATM would have been removed.

“You have to rely on the ATMs of the shops to use your ATMs and they close at around 9 pm.”

What would you do for the cash after that, he asked.

Clerk Ian Doyle, a Charlesville-based representative, said a business plan should be in place if you’re looking for a loan from a bank.

“To hear their announcement last week, I wondered what their business development manager thought about this.

“To look at the towns of Cork, for the last eight or nine years we have been trying to bring vitality back to the city centers – towns like Contork, Mallow and Michelstown.

“And we are succeeding – but cash will always be part of the business growth of our cities – there is no question about that.”

He said that while the elders were worried about the matter as they would be concerned about what would happen with regard to their pension, he added that he was also concerned about the business development aspect of the decision.

“The business community I know in our major cities cannot and will not function without cash and this will be for a long period to come.

He told the story of a tourist coming to a town for a game of golf who didn’t have the cash to tip the caddy.

He said the decision will impact many small transactions that go on on a day-to-day basis.

It was decided to write a letter to AIB and the minister.