IT would be “nonsense” to close the state-of-the-art AIB bank in Hospital according to the local parish priest, Canon Conor Ryan, who chaired a protest meeting in the town which was attended by 150 people.
In July, AIB announced that eight branches in Limerick were to close - Dromcollogher, Doon, Glin, William Street, Corbally, Croom, Foynes and Hospital.
To date, protest meetings have taken place in Doon, Dromcollogher and Foynes while a protest rally took place in Glin.
“There was a lot of anger about losing the bank branch. It is probably the centre of the economic life in Hospital,” said Canon Ryan who chaired the meeting in the local community hall which was attended by representatives from the Senior Citizens, the agricultural sector, local businesses and the general public who use the bank branch.
What came across strongly at the meeting according to Canon Ryan, was that AIB gave the Hospital branch customers no choice about where their accounts are being transferring to.
“They have no right to do so,” said Canon Ryan.
“If they are our accounts, the least they should have done was send out a letter asking where the accounts should be sent. We are all being sent to Kilmallock without any consultation or anything.
“They sent out a letter to all the account holders saying the branch would be closing some time early next year and our accounts would be transferred, presumably in block, to Kilmallock.”
Cllr Bill O’Donnell described the proposed closure of the bank as “devastating” and a “disaster” for the town.
“Hospital is a great commercial town and always has been a great commercial town. There are many towns in County Limerick which, for some unknown reason, have never managed to maintain the level of commercial activity that Hospital has been able to with two solicitor firms, two auctioneering firms, two pharmacies, two hardware shops, and two major schools. It is a vibrant town and has always been a very commercial centre with a great following from surroundings areas right over and well into Tipperary,” he said.
Cllr O’Donnell urged the people of Hospital and the environs to put together their business plan “to be presented to the regional manger or AIB in Dublin or to politicians or whoever would lend them an ear”.
“They need it to persuade AIB that, not only would this be the wrong decision for the people of Hospital and the surrounding areas, but it is also the wrong decision for AIB,” he said.
According to Canon Ryan, Mark Fitzharris, regional director of retail banking at AIB who met with a deputation from the town took notes and said he would pass on what was said at the meeting to people higher up in the bank.
“Also, he said he would give us a written reply. We asked him to spell out in the written reply how the bank authorities see the future in Hospital, in other words, who is going to supply the services presently supplied by the bank in Hospital?”