Banks refusing to take cash from customers must abolish service charges, Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan has said.
Deputy Flanagan was speaking after Allied Irish Bank (AIB) decided 70 of their 170 nationwide branches will cease all cash facilities.
Birr and Edenderry are the Offaly branches affected by the change and the Rathdowney branch in Laois, which he described as a “major blow for rural towns.”
The AIB branch in Athy, a local town to many Laois people, is also stopping all cash transactions.
“The Central Bank issue banking licences in this country and their role in the financial sector is to ensure that the best interests of consumers are protected,” said Deputy Flanagan.
“In this situation I feel they should become involved here. If a bank no longer provides a cash service to a loyal community, they should not be charging them for services,” he added.
Between early September until October 21, AIB will withdraw the cash machines (ATMs), safety deposit boxes, night safes or cheque lodgements from 70 branches including, the branches in Rathdwoney, Birr and Edenderry which are due to go cashless from September 30.
From that date, AIB has said, “some of our branches will no longer offer cash and cheque services at the counter, or through machines inside the branch”.
“This means we will not have notes, coins, cheques, foreign exchange, bank drafts; and will remove any drop safes and night safes.
“If there is an ATM outside the branch where services are changing, that will also be removed.”
AIB said people would be able to continue using the ‘cashless branches’ to open an account or take out a loan, while banking services would also be available in nearby post offices.
Deputy Flanagan stated, “Many people want to continue using cash.
“The pandemic changed a lot of aspects of our lives, but cash is still legal tender, and many prefer to use it as form of payment.
“The announcement appears to be a cost-cutting measure, and I believe that ATM services should be maintained at an absolute minimum.
Deputy Flanagan added” “Telling people, they can do their banking online when many choose not to or cannot avail of such a service displays a complete lack of knowledge of the issue. AIB must abolish service charges for those affected”.