Local politicians have called on Ulster Bank to rethink its controversial decision to axe its branches in Dromore and Rathfriland.
The local branches are among 11 across Northern Ireland that are due to close next summer as the bank continues to implement a series of cost-saving measures.
According to Ulster Bank, the Rathfriland branch is due to close on June 6, while the Dromore branch will shut on June 19. The move will leave both towns without a bank.
Angry customers have branded Ulster Bank’s decision “a disgrace” and some have accused it of “abandoning people in rural areas.”
The Banbridge UUP group - Councillor Glenn Barr, Alderman Elizabeth Ingram and Alderman Ian Burns - have accused the bank of trying to enhance its bottom line at the expense of loyal, long-standing customers.
“Their actions will now mean that Rathfriland has no bank. A town without a bank beggars belief. This announcement is another blow for rural businesses and will have a massive impact on local traders and the local population,” a group statement said.
“We have already contacted the Ulster Bank requesting an urgent meeting and will be asking them to reconsider this decision.”
Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and his DUP colleagues Edwin Poots MLA and Alderman Paul Rankin have condemned the bank’s decision to axe its Dromore branch, describing the move as “deeply disappointing”.
The DUP representatives have requested a meeting with senior management of Ulster Bank to discuss the plans and urge them to reconsider.
“I will be sharing the concerns of local people about the impact this will have on our economy and on accessibility to banking services, especially for some of our more elderly and vulnerable residents,” Mr Donaldson said.
Alderman Rankin added: “Whilst there will of course still be access to banking through local ATM cash machines and the Post Office, this is not an adequate replacement for a local bank branch. I will be putting these issues directly to Ulster Bank when we meet with their senior management.”