AIB bank has reversed its decision to make 70 of its branches – in mostly rural locations – cashless, a proposal which had led to widespread anger.
In a statement just released, the bank said that: “recognising the customer and public unease that this has caused, AIB has decided not to proceed with the proposed changes to its bank services.”
Rural Independent TDs TDs, Mattie Mc Grath, Michael Collins and Danny Healy-Rae, were inside the headquarters of AIB on Molesworth Street since this morning demanding to speak to the bank CEO and calling for the ‘cashless bank’ decision to ‘be reversed’.
Cahir Cllr Maírín McGrath, who accompanied the TDs in the protest, said that she had been handed a statement by AIB confirming the decision was overturned.
From AIB HQ this morning, AIB have just handed members of Rural Independent Group this statement where they announced they won’t be proceeding with proposed changes to its bank service. I attended the HQ in Dublin this morning to raise concerns about the future of local branches pic.twitter.com/ATMkRRhANX
— Máirín McGrath (@MawMcGrath) July 22, 2022
Speaking from inside AIB’s Head Office this morning, Deputy Michael Collins stated:
“Since AIB announced the calculated decision to make 70 of its 170 bank branches cashless earlier this week, we have heard absolutely nothing concrete from the government, either for the bank’s decision reversal or the acceptance of our call to recall the Dail.”
“Evidently, the government – as majority shareholder of this bank – is directly complicit in allowing AIB to drastically downgrade services, hoping the public will quietly accept this move. The government has ignored our Group’s demand for a recall of Dail Éireann to discuss this issue and related community-banking matters.”
“Simultaneous to calling for decisive governmental action, we also sought an urgent meeting with the CEO of AIB. Given the dire impact and urgency of this matter, it cannot be allowed to fizzle out. I’m sure AIB and the government would love to see this issue disappear, but that will not be allowed to occur, and that is why we are at AIB’s HQ today, demanding a meeting with the bank’s CEO and senior bank officials.”
“The bank’s CEO, Colin Hunt, was an economic advisor to former Taoiseach Brian Cowen during the bank bailout years. Therefore, he should understand more than anyone that AIB’s €21 billion taxpayer bailout, in conjunction with the government’s 63.5 percent shareholding, means he also has an obligation to the Irish public,” he said.
“Bank or government spin masquerading around ‘reviewing or delaying’ this decision will not be tolerated, as what is required is the permanent reversal of this decision and a full commitment from the government that banks must provide a full rural service to all customers.”
“The Minister for Finance is the majority or controlling shareholder of AIB (on behalf of the public). Therefore, he has significant voting power when it comes to AIB company decisions, which he can no longer casually shirk,” the Rural Independent TDs said.
“We are not prepared to stand idly and allow this bailed-out bank to rip the heart and soul out of rural communities. If done, this action undermines social inclusion and endangers vulnerable customers to the risks of online banking abuse and exploitation.”
“Therefore, we are demanding an urgent meeting with Colin Hunt and senior bank officials. We represent rural constituencies, and the constituents we represent will not be silenced by the government or the bankers on this issue,” concluded Deputy Collins.
After the decision by AIB to reverse the decision the Rural TDs left the building, and were amongst those who welcomed the outcome.
— Mary Regan (@MaryERegan) July 22, 2022
Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín, said it was a victory for people power and that the banks needed to remember who bailed them out in the last crisis.