Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Staff to be relocated as First Trust closes five branches

First Trust Bank has announced it will close five branches, resulting in the relocation of 13 staff.

The bank said the decision to pull the shutters on one main branch and four sub-branches was part of a bid to make it more “streamlined” and “cost-effective”.

It said none of the 13 staff in the five locations would be made compulsorily redundant, but would be moved instead to other locations.

The branches to be chopped are Ballycastle in Co Antrim, which is a full service branch, along with smaller sub-offices with shorter opening hours in Belleek in Co Fermanagh, Shipquay Street in Derry, Dromore in Co Tyrone and Jordanstown, Co Antrim. The bank said the sub-offices already operated on reduced opening hours.

The changes will leave the Irish-owned bank with 43 branches in the province.

Parent company Allied Irish Banks, which is owned by the Irish State, announced plans in March to lay off 2,500 staff by the end of 2013 through a voluntary redundancy programme.

First Trust managing director Gerry McGinn said: “We are aware that many customers may be disappointed with this news and our staff will do everything they can to minimise any inconvenience caused.”

Customers are set to receive a letter on Tuesday explaining that accounts will be transferred to the nearest branch.

AIB half-year results published yesterday, which include First Trust, showed an operating loss of €1.1bn. That was down 64% on the same period last year. AIB is shutting 67 branches in the Republic. Larry Broderick, general secretary of trade union the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA), said: “Apart from the impact of these closures on 72 locations on the island of Ireland, there is an issue of public policy that must be considered and the need for an integrated strategic approach to Irish banking. What we are witnessing is the dismantling of Ireland's banking infrastructure.”

Padraig McShane, an independent councillor in Ballycastle, said: “First Trust generated a substantial amount of business since coming to Ballycastle. The removal of the branch will have a devastating impact on those who placed their faith in the bank.”

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