Closure ‘hugely disappointing’

UUP MLA John McCallister has described the closure of Rathfriland branch of the Bank of Ireland as “hugely disappointing.”

He said last week’s news that the branch will close in May or June will have a serious knock on effect on the town which has been badly hit by the current economic situation.

“This was not the news anyone wanted to hear and ultimately it will impact on customers who have banked with Bank of Ireland. They will now have to travel to branches in Banbridge or Newry.

“I have been speaking to a lot of people over the weekend about the closure and who it will affect most. I agree that the elderly and locals who maybe can’t drive rely heavily on a branch within walking distance. Internet banking, which is hugely successful and highly effective for many, would not be an option for many elderly people. My heart really goes out to them.”

Mr McCallister said the knock-on effects of the closures will be felt for some time. He said, “Those customers who probably bank at least once a week, would have come into town and most likely shopped in the local chemist, bakery, butchers and newsagent. Due to the fact they maybe now have to go to Banbridge or Newry to bank, they will start using shops there.”

Local councillor Liz Ingram said she too was very concerned at the news. “The sad reality of closures like this means it affects more than one business and has a negative impact on the whole community. In addition to the loss of service, we are now going to be left with another empty building in Church Square, Rathfriland.”