Another blow to Downpatrick as the Bank of Ireland is to close its doors by the end of 2021.
A bank in the centre of Downpatrick is to close by the end of the year.
After a strategic review, Bank of Ireland officials have decided that the changing online banking pattern of customer behaviour has basically made the current over-the-counter bank redundant.
South Down MLA Colin McGrath said: “I was saddened to hear that the Bank of Ireland is closing in Downpatrick. It has been a pillar in the financial institutions of the town for a generation.
“I remember them arriving in the town and was excited to open my first ever bank account with them when i was a teenager.
“I am incredibly thankful to the staff present and past who have been so professional and helpful to customers over the years.
“It is a sad facet of modern life that banking is no longer a face-to-face task like it once was. Larger banks are having to adjust their business models as a result of this but it is taking away from our High Streets and that is sad.
“Our Assembly team are liaising with the bank to ensure that there is minimal disruption to customers and credible alternatives in place for those that wish to stay with the bank.”
Trainor: Bank of Ireland branch closures ‘a hammer blow to urban centres’.
SDLP Downpatrick Councillors Gareth Sharvin and John Trainor have described the Bank of Ireland branch closure in Downpatrick as a “hammer blow” and called on the Bank to urgently clarify how it will support customers and workers.
Councillors Trainor and Sharvin have called on the Bank to clarify its future arrangements for servicing its loyal customer base and supporting its workforce.
Councillor Trainor commented: “This is a hammer blow to Downpatrick, just as it is for urban centres across the North. In recent years we have had a migration of business away from the city and town centres across to the internet, followed by the collapse of trade in traditional retail centres as a result of the Covid pandemic. This decision from the Bank of Ireland adds to this spiral of decline.”
Councillor Gareth Sharvin added: “This move will undoubtedly leave vulnerable and elderly customers without access to essential services. It is also highly disappointing there appears to have been very little local consultation or stakeholder engagement.
“I will be seeking to meet with senior officials at Bank of Ireland to secure protections for the customers and staff at the Downpatrick branch.”
Bank of Ireland announces changes for Downpatrick customers.
The Bank of Ireland today announced the outcome of a strategic review of its Northern Ireland business which will affect customers of its branch in Downpatrick.
The bank is planning to close the branch and expects this will happen by the end of the year. The Bank’s agreement with the Post Office means that customers will be able to use their local Post Office for their transactions.
A Bank of Ireland spokesperson said the changes were being made in response to significant and accelerating trends in how people are banking.
By the end of the year, the number of Bank of Ireland branches in Northern Ireland will reduce from 28 to 13. Alongside this change, a £7 million investment programme will be delivered to improve the revised branch network, invest in technology, and enhance customer service. The Bank of Ireland UK headquarters will also relocate from London to Belfast.
Personal and business customers will be able to use over 500 Post Office branches to make lodgements of cash and cheques, withdraw cash and make balance enquiries.
Bank of Ireland business customers will also be able to access enhanced services including cheque encashment, bulk cash lodgements and obtaining pre-ordered coin at nominated Post Office outlets.
Ian Sheppard, Managing Director NI, Bank of Ireland UK, added: “Technology is evolving and changing the way we live and manage our lives and that includes the way our customers, increasingly, choose to bank with us.
“Fewer customers are using branches and that trend is growing year on year on year. The number of branch visits is now just half of what they were in 2017 and footfall at the branches which are closing is down by nearly 70% since 2017.
“The changes to our branch network that we’ve announced today are designed to meet today’s demand, while protecting local access to physical banking for those who want it through our existing partnership with the Post Office. This ensures continuity of services locally for both personal and business customers.
“We know news like this can cause concern for some customers. However, these changes will not have immediate effect and there is no need for any customer to do anything right now.
“We will write to our customers at least 12 weeks prior to the proposed closure date of their branch to ensure customers understand the alternative arrangements available to them including online, in an alternative BOI branch, or at a local post office.
“We are also putting in place a range of additional supports for senior and vulnerable customers, including proactive calling by branch teams, mobile advice teams and an over 65’s and carers telephone line.
“Bank of Ireland has been serving the community since 1825 and we remain committed to our customers in the Downpatrick area.
“These changes will allow us to invest in our other branches in Northern Ireland as well as in digital services so that we can continue to play a positive role in Northern Ireland for years to come.
“We will also continue our work with community groups through initiatives such as Begin Together, our £3.3 million investment programme providing funding and benefitting community-focused initiatives across the island of Ireland.”
Retail NI Expresses Concern with Bank of Ireland Branch Closures.
Reacting to the decision of Bank of Ireland to close half of their branches in Northern Ireland, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Nobody can deny the significant increase of online banking, but to close so many Bank of Ireland branches in so many of our local towns and on our High Streets seems a step too far.
“The closure of these fifteen branches will have a negative impact on our local High Streets with less footfall for nearby retailers when lockdown ends.
“I have also particular concerns of the impact on rural communities, with further reduced ATM provision and the ability to access cash.