14 Ulster Bank branches to close
Twenty-four Ulster Bank branches across Ireland, including 14 in the Republic, are to close early next year as consumer champions warned large areas risked becoming "financially forgotten".
Services are moving in February and March to nearby offices amid declining numbers using the properties in favour of the internet. No staff in Northern Ireland are likely to be made redundant, but some voluntary job losses are expected in the Republic.
Stephen Cruise, head of branch banking, said: "Closing a branch is never an easy decision and one we do not take lightly.
"We continue to invest in a range of banking channels to improve access to our services such as our Bank on Wheels and our commitment to extend our services available through the Post Office this year."
He said there were no plans for further closures next year.
"Banking has changed significantly over the last few years as more and more of our customers are using digital technology to bank with us where and when it is convenient for them," Mr Cruise said.
Northern Ireland Consumer Council spokeswoman Rachael Cray said: "We are particularly concerned about the impact this Ulster Bank decision will have on its customers and businesses in the areas affected.
"The majority of the closing branches are in rural communities where Ulster Bank has been the only bank or is the last bank in town.
"Despite an increase in online banking, our research shows that bank customers still want access to local services with 68 per cent of consumers surveyed saying they had visited a bank branch at least once in the last month.
"Ulster Bank must be aware that many of its customers are not online or don't have the confidence or ability to use telephone, online or smart phone banking."
Branches in the Republic that will close in March:
:: Athboy, County Meath, with services moving to Trim
:: Ballinrobe, County Mayo, with services moving to Castlebar
:: Ashbourne, County Meath, with services moving to Swords
:: Athy, County Kildare, with services moving to Carlow
:: Castleblaney, County Monaghan, with services moving to Monaghan
:: Castlerea, County Roscommon, with services moving to Roscommon
:: Clones, County Monaghan, with services moving to Monaghan
:: Croom, County Limerick, with services moving to Dooradoyle
:: Ferbane, County Offaly, with services moving to Athlone
:: Loughrea, County Galway, with services moving to Athenry
:: Manorhamilton, County Leitrim, with services moving to Sligo
:: Moville, County Donegal, with services moving to Buncrana
:: Roscrea, County Tipperary, with services moving to Nenagh
:: Wicklow, with services moving to Bray