The decision by Allied Irish Bank to turn its Kells branch into a cashless service has been slammed by politicians.

“This decision will disappoint and frustrate many AIB customers throughout Kells town and indeed the wider North Meath hinterland who use the branch in Kells” commented local Councillor, Paul McCabe.

“AIB has, in my opinion, taken the easy option, and not thought about the long-term implications of the decision for their customers and the communities affected by these changes.

“Making decisions of this nature based on the average number of daily customers ignores the strategic position bank branches play in communities. The decision to remove the ATM from the bank in Kells is also highly regrettable. For many in our rural communities, cash is still king!

“Personal and business customers need access to in-branch banking services to deal with requests that cannot be completed over the phone or online.

“Older people will be disproportionately impacted by the decision, as many prefer to go into their branch and deal with people rather than use online banking. ”

Meanwhile, Kells native and Sinn Féin Meath East TD, Darren O’Rourke told Meath Live, “This decision will remove all access to cash, cheque, foreign exchange and ATM services from the Kells branch, from 21st October, and 69 other branches, between now and then.

“At a time when many are already struggling to navigate a rapidly changing banking sector, this is a move that shows no regard to local communities, particularly to the elderly and to vulnerable customers.“AIB has tried to justify reducing services on the grounds of reduced use by consumers.“That is a cynical argument by a bank – bailed out by the public little more than a decade ago – that they cannot hide behind as it does not take into consideration the impact the pandemic had on consumers using face-to-face services.“The Central Bank has noted the importance that cash continues to play in our economy and for social inclusion.“Accessing cash is a fairly basic service provided by any bank, and the loss of these services will severely impact customers and businesses.“It is unacceptable and it’s a move that must be reversed. It is no way to treat customers. I acknowledge that AIB is expanding their relationship with An Post but this is clearly not a solution.

“This is yet another example of why we need to have a national conversation about how banking operates in this state, especially for vulnerable or isolated customers in this digital age and people living in rural communities. My colleague, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance, Pearse Doherty TD, has written to the CEO of AIB and to the Minister for Finance, the bank’s major shareholder, calling for the decision to be reversed. I hope they heed the call.”