Move to get rid of rural ATMs ‘will further damage rural retail’

The decision to withdraw and decommission a raft of ATMs throughout rural Ireland was just emblematic of a larger attitude that is making it “harder and harder” to work and live in rural Ireland, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Commenting on the move by banks to dispose of ATMs around the country, with reports of a combined 1,000 ATMs in the firing line from AIB and Bank of Ireland, ICMSA Farm and Rural Affairs Committee chairman Denis Drennan said:

“There’s a real sense that all the little facilities and services that go to make our lives easier and more convenient are being stripped out of rural districts. This is just the latest manifestation.

“In many parts of the country, you’d have retail businesses who wouldn’t have the turnover to justify having facilities to handle debit cards so they can only use cash.

Now the ATMs that would have dispensed that cash to their customers are going and so it means having to go to larger towns to use the ATMs there.

“If you’re going to the larger towns to use their ATMs then you might as well do your shopping or your business in that town – that’s how the smaller towns lose their customer base.

“If you don’t have your own transport then you have to rely on rural public transport – good luck with that. And when you do go to use the ATM the temptation will be to take out more cash than previously so that you won’t have to come back again every few days.”

Drennan warned that criminals who specialise in preying on older vulnerable people in rural areas or villages “will soon work this out”.

I’d have said that the obvious thing to do is to put ATMs in the rural post offices, but they’ve actually gone as well.

“It’s just another little step towards making everyday life in rural districts that little bit harder and it’s emblematic of the attitude that far too many of our public and private bodies have towards the people who live outside the urban centres,” Drennan concluded.