Three Laois branches of Bank of Ireland are among the 88 that are set to close for the final time today.
Mountrath, Durrow and Rathdowney are among the 88 branches set to close as the bank announced in March that they had “reached a tipping point between online and offline banking”.
While the branch just over the border in Monasterevin will also shut today.
The branches in Portlaoise, Mountmellick, Portarlington and Abbeyleix will remain open as will Athy, Carlow and Roscrea, which would all have a number of Laois customers.
The branch network in Ireland will in total will reduce from 257 to 169 and from 28 to 13 in Northern Ireland.
It is reported that some of the services will now be offered at post offices instead.
The Irish Examiner reports that this ‘new partnership also comes as a major boost to an under-pressure post office network suffering the similar fate of local bank branches – declining footfall’.
Debbie Byrne, managing director of An Post Retail, said: “We have been chasing this Bank of Ireland partnership for many years and it is very important additional business for us.
“This is extremely positive as it further enhances An Post’s position as the trusted provider of community banking in every community.”
Local Minister Pippa Hackett described today as ‘a sad day’.
She said: “Today is a sad day for the staff of Bank of Ireland in Edenderry, Banagher, Clara, Mountrath, Durrow and Rathdowney.
“85 branches are closing nationwide and we have also seen KBC and Ulster bank pulling out of the market. It is clear that private banking is not serving us well, so it’s time to reconsider our options.”
Earlier this year the Minister raised the matter in the Seanad and pointed to the 2018 Local Public Banking in Ireland report which proposed a public banking pilot scheme in the Midlands, headquartered in Mullingar with branches in Tullamore, Portlaoise, Athlone and Longford.
“Public banks keep money in a community. What’s generated there, stays there and is reinvested in new ventures or expansions,” she said.
“It works well for the small businesses we know as a community – cafés, hairdressers, bookshops, boutiques, food producers and tourism ventures.”
“A review of the Irish banking system has been promised by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, and I will be recommending that public banking is part of that review,” says Minister Hackett. “It has long been a policy of the Green Party.”