John McCallister, Independent Unionist candidate for South Down in the forthcoming Assembly election, has outlined his disappointment at the Ulster Bank’s decision to end Saturday morning opening at 11 branches, including Downpatrick.
In a statement Mr McCallister said: “When giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s review of banking, the Chartered Accountants Society said there is a need for increased lending, less risk aversion, greater competition in the sector, and the building of better relationships with customers. From my own experience, and talking to constituents and local businesses, this analysis of our local banking sector is spot on.
“However, since RBS and subsequently Ulster Banks, was bailed out by the taxpayer, we have had a drip feed of job losses, closed branches and centralisation of services.
“Saturday banking is essential for many working families and businesses. Households with two working parents often find it extremely difficult to bank during the week and Saturday mornings is an indispensable service.
“Flexible and engaged local banking is crucial for our economy and society – this decision is going in the wrong direction for what our economy and society need.
“This is extremely disappointing news for Downpatrick and Northern Ireland and I urge Ulster Bank to reconsider. I don’t think it is acceptable for the tax-payer to have bailed out RBS, for Ulster Bank to slowly bleed services from the community here.”