More bank closures loom, says outgoing union chief

Larry Broderick, who is retiring after 30 years at the Financial Services Union, said his successor will face the challenges of more branch closures and a continuing malign culture at the top of Irish banks, writes Eamon Quinn.

Mr Broderick, who has led the union since 2001 and which up until two years ago was called the Irish Bank Officials’ Association — told the Irish Examiner that talks with banks about the implications of technology sweeping through the industry had got underway.

In the North, lenders have already shut many branches, and there were more “bank closures looming on the horizon”, he said.

The union said Dermot Ryan will succeed Mr Broderick as general secretary. He joins from Amnesty International Australia where he was head of its external affairs, and formerly the chief of staff of Australia’s Transport Workers Union.

Union membership peaked at 23,000.

However, because of bank closures and a wave of redundancies following the crisis, membership has shrunk to around 14,000. He hailed negotiating IR£1,000 bonuses for staff members in the switch over to the euro, as well as an outsourcing deal struck with Bank of Ireland and IBM a few years later, as successes.

Mr Broderick said the union’s opposition, at the height of the crisis, to a merger of AIB and Bank of Ireland proposed by the bailout troika was also notable.

The two banks alone received €27bn of the €64bn the State pumped into banks during the crash, but the merger plan would have made matters even worse, he said.

A major regret is the union not having the means to call out the banks before the crash. He said the malign culture remains at the top of Irish banking.

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