Campaign seeks to stop bank closures on peninsula

An online petition has been set up in the hope it will force AIB to reverse decisions to close two branches which would leave an entire West Cork peninsula without any banks.

A public meeting will also be held in Schull Parish Hall tomorrow night at 8.30pm to organise a campaign to stop the closures which, if they go ahead, will have a serious impact on what is one of the most elderly populations in the country.

The closure of the Schull and Ballydehob AIB branches means customers would have to travel to Skibbereen or Bantry for banking services, involving a round-trip of up to 90km for those on the extreme western side of the peninsula.

Locals also claim the move will greatly affect the local economy along with investment potential and tourism on the Mizen.

They are also seeking a meeting with AIB chief executive David Duffy, who spent some of his early years on the peninsula.

“He, of all people, should know that such services are desperately needed in this region. We’re stunned by his decision and would like to meet him to express our concerns,” Goleen and District community council chairman Michael Collins said.

“For people living in Crookhaven, Barleycove and Goleen this would be a disaster. I can’t see post offices being able to cope with the demand and it will have a devastating affect on business,” Mr Collins said.

He said elderly people in particular would be forced to keep money in their homes, which could impact on their security.

“We in the Mizen peninsula, along with Donegal, have the most elderly populations in the country and we’re also trying to stop Garda stations and schools closing. We are becoming very marginalised. We don’t have a minister for rural affairs so nobody is fighting for rural issues,” Mr Collins said.

He added that the three government TDs in Cork South-West — Jim Daly, Noel Harrington and Michael McCarthy — had to come out strongly in support of the Mizen community.

John Dalton, chairman of Schull Chamber of Tourism, said if people couldn’t get money in his village they would do their shopping and eating elsewhere.

“They would probably go to Skibbereen and do all their business there. Access to cash is important for tourists. As traders, we would be ‘sitting ducks’ on long weekends if we couldn’t lodge money in night safes,” he said.

Senator Denis O’Donovan (FF) said that the AIB proposals represented “a major blow to the life of the peninsula”.

“The Government, a major shareholder in AIB, must wake up to the ramifications for rural Ireland with the closure of small banks in the Mizen Head peninsula particularly where the garda barracks in both Goleen and Ballydehob have already been closed.

“I’m calling on the three government deputies to stop the rot before it’s lights out for rural Ireland.” he added.


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