Bank of Ireland closing eight branches across Northern Ireland
Dozens of jobs on the line
Bank of Ireland is shutting eight branches across Northern Ireland with the potential loss of dozens of jobs.
It says it will shut eight locations "where the volume of business is insufficient to sustain them.
"These branches account for about 6% of the business conducted by the network in Northern Ireland," it said.
The branches scheduled for closure are Castlereagh, Draperstown, Antrim, Belleek, Castlederg, Newtownards, Maghera and Donegall Square South in Belfast.
It's understood around 50 staff will be affected.
Sean Sheehan, regional director of Bank of Ireland UK, said:
"The decision to close branches is not taken lightly, and we understand that it will be disappointing for those customers who use them.
"A key priority will be to ensure customers understand the alternative arrangements available, and to maintain continuity of customer service.
"We are responding to the continuing shift in customer behaviour towards increased use of digital and online channels, and the changes announced today will put us in the best position to continue to support our customers’ changing needs and grow our business in the future."
Bank of Ireland says the closures will happen on a "phased basis commencing late Autumn 2016".
"Staff affected by the branch closures will be able to transfer, redeploy or relocate to other roles within the Bank or apply for voluntary redundancy," it said.
Wilfred Mitchell, policy chairman of the FSB said it was a "significant blow to the local economy as it will reduce service and competition generally.
"This closure programme, which has a particularly unwelcome rural focus, follows earlier closures in 2013 that will do nothing to inspire business confidence."
And Larry Broderick of the Financial Services Union blasted the closures, and said it will mean towns like Belleek losing the last remaining bank in the area.
"The decision by Bank of Ireland to announce eight Branch closures and over 50 redundancies is not only regrettable, but irresponsible given the impact it will have on customers and staff," he said.
"Given that Bank of Ireland is expected to announce significant profits at the end of the month, this announcement is a kick in the teeth for both customers and staff in Northern Ireland who supported the bank during the financial crisis."