Limerick may get Polish bank

The country's first Polish bank looks set to open in Limerick next year to cater for the city's growing Polish population of more than 8,000.

A Polish medical centre is also due to open in Limerick in 2007, offering GP and dental services to the Polish community.

Records show that there are 200,000 Polish people living in Ireland. However, some people estimate that this figure could be closer to quarter of a million.

According to Pat O'Sullivan, president of the Irish Polish Cultural and Business Association, an estimated €1bn is being sent home every year by Polish people working in Ireland.

"If each person is sending home €150 from what they earn here, and I know some are sending home more, then you are talking about in excess of €1bn a year going back to Poland," he said.

"This is big business for banks and financial institutions, some of whom are charging excessively for this service," he added.

Mr O'Sullivan confirmed that negotiations are under way with one of Poland's leading banks and it is hoped the country's first Polish retail bank will open in Limerick before the end of next year.

It has also been confirmed that Limerick will be home to Ireland's first Polish medical centre, which is due to open in May.

"We are encouraging Polish GPs to come to Ireland to set up a practice here providing a day-to-day service for Polish people. At present, many Polish people are going home for this service because of communication difficulties," explained Mr O'Sullivan.

"We hope that a Polish medical centre will open in Limerick next May. It will start with two to three Polish GPs and a dental service will also be provided," he added.

The Limerick region is served by direct flights from Shannon Airport to five major Polish cities, including Warsaw, Krakow and Lodz.

A delegation from Limerick City Council and the Irish Polish Cultural and Business Association recently returned from Krakow, where they were examining the possibility of twinning Limerick with the Polish city.

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