COUNTY councillor Eddie Wade has accused local politicians of “talking out of both sides of their mouth” in relation to the impending closure of eight AIB banks in Limerick.
The Fianna Fail councillor’s remarks were just one of a number of sharp and heated exchanges which took place between members of the opposition and Fine Gael during a special meeting of Limerick County Council this week to discuss the bank closures.
“I’m very disappointed with the last speaker if she is saying close banks, close the post offices, shut down shop and forget about the ordinary people of Ireland. People can’t be talking through two sides of their mouth saying one thing outside in public and saying something else in here,” said Cllr Wade.
His comments came after Cllr Mary Jackman noted that it looked as if “nobody is taking responsibility for what happened during the reign of Bertie Ahern and others”.
“I’m not pussyfooting around it. We have been left with a legacy, we are doing our very best to deal with that. Everybody is making sacrifices. This is what we have to do,” she said.
The Fine Gael councillor said that people are no longer expected to write a letter or send a cheque “it is all done on computers and it’s done electronically”. “There are alternative ways of banking where staff can be kept. It may be done in a different way. We have to think differently,” said Cllr Jackman.
In response, Cllr Eddie Wade said that many of the people who he has represented over the last 43 years have no computers or “none of those skills that the last councillor was referring to.”
“Are we living in the real world at all?” asked the Drombanna-based councillor. “Are we saying forget about the ordinary people of Doon and Cappamore and surrounding areas where the banks are closing. Computers we are talking about. No mention of the elderly people who have approached me in protest at this closure who like to visit the village of Doon to confide in the staff of that bank and tell their troubles and get advice off of.
“The people I have represented over the last 43 years don’t use computers and don’t do the internet or know anything about it – the plain, decent people of ordinary Ireland who worked their knuckles off to build it,” he added.
Two weeks ago, Allied Irish Bank announced that it intended to close eight branches across Limerick - Hospital, Doon, Croom, Glin, Foynes, Dromcollogher, Corbally and William Street. A motion which was before Monday’s special council meeting was signed by six members of the Fianna Fail party and called on Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, and the Government to instruct AIB to reverse its decision to close the eight branches.
The Fine Gael party however, refused to support the motion and sought an amendment to remove the reference to the Minister for Finance from the motion. Leader of the party in the council, Cllr John Sheahan said the motion should be amended to read that Limerick County Council “is cognisant of the disastrous handling of the banking system by the previous government”.
“Accordingly the council calls on AIB to revisit its decision,” the amendment added.
“I don’t think that anyone in this chamber realistically believes that all eight of them will be reversed tomorrow morning by the board of AIB by whatever influence this meeting has in relation to this motion,” said Cllr Sheahan.
Leader of the Fianna Fail party, Michael Collins said that their motion wasn’t political and they were asking the Minister for Finance “to help us” as he is the “most influential man in this land”. “And I’m sure he would because he an obliging gentleman and I think we should have got that opportunity today,” he added. After a discussion lasting nearly two hours, the amendment proposed by Fine Gael was voted on and was carried on a vote of 16 to 10.