A MEETING has been provisionally planned for December between local politicians and officials from Allied Irish Bank (AIB), over plans to close the firm’s premises at High Street in Omagh.
To the dismay of many of its customers, AIB announced plans to close the bank, which has been on the site for almost a century.
Each of the Omagh town councillors joined forces to express their ‘strong opposition to the planned and imminent closure of the branch’ when they passed a motion on the issue at the monthly council meeting on Tuesday evening.
Proposed by Barry McElduff and supported by Anne Marie Fitzgerald, Stephen Donnelly, Errol Thompson, Josephine Deehan and Matthew Bell, the motion also expressed their ‘serious concern’ at the potential impact that the closure would have on staff, customers, businesses and the economic vitality of Omagh town centre.
Cllr McElduff said there needed to be a meaningful engagement from the bank.
“There has been no attempt or will on the part of AIB headquarters to offset this closure. Indeed, a reduction in services amounts to a contrivance to achieve a reduce footfall,” he said.
“AIB are saying that there has been a reduced footfall of 19 per-cent.
“This smacks of a purely commercial decision with no sense of social responsibility.
“This decision has come without warning and with no attempt to explore innovative ways to retain the branch.”
Independent councillor, Josephine Deehan, said the decision to close the branch was a shock. She added that it was totally unacceptable, and that the needs of customers and staff needed to be made the highest priority.
“Not everyone has access to broadband or digital technology. There is still a requirement for face to face support which is so important,” Cllr Deehan stated.
“It is important for a main bank such as AIB to have a branch in the county town of Tyrone and I am shocked that they have been so short-sighted as to not appreciate the impact that this closure will have on our community.”
The motion was also supported by Alliance councillor, Stephen Donnelly and new Ulster Unionist councillor, Matthew Bell.