Cllr Conor D McGuinness
A Waterford councillor has written to Bank of Ireland and Central Bank to express his "deep concern" at the proposal to close 103 branches across the country from September on.
Branches in Lismore, Kilmacthomas and Ardkeen in Waterford City have been earmarked for closure under the plan.
Sinn Féin's Cllr Conor D McGuinness the news of these closures has come as a "slap in the face" to staff and customers.
"It’s doubly worrying in the context of Ulster Bank announcing its departure from the Irish market," he says.
"I understand that the Financial Services Union is engaging with the bank, and I offer them my support in protecting jobs and ensuring staff are treated fairly," he continues.
Cllr McGuinness says online banking doesn’t work for everyone or for every situation, and that a physical branch is important for both personal and business customers and for local economies.
"The impact of branch closures on towns, on individuals and on SMEs can be severe. Not everyone has the ability to move their banking online. This is a cost cutting measure for Bank of Ireland, but what about the cost to our communities and to our local economies," he questions.
"Billions of euros of public money was invested to keep Bank of Ireland afloat a little over a decade ago. The Irish people suffered a decade of austerity to save the bacon of the Irish banking sector including Bank of Ireland. It seems that sacrifice has been quickly forgotten in the quest to increase shareholder returns.
“We need to have a serious conversation about setting up a public banking system for Ireland, similar to what exists in many other European countries. I spoke on this very issue in Council last week when discussing the disgraceful lack of Government support for our Post Office network.
“It's clear that the banking structure envisaged by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Troika over a decade ago is falling apart. It may be working for the banks, but its certainly not working for the public," he adds.