Ulster Bank will close one-fifth of its Irish branches

The closures are expected to lead to 220 redundancies.

By Fora Staff

ULSTER BANK WILL close one-fifth of its Irish branches, with more than 200 staff to be made redundant as part of the plans.

In total, 22 branches will be shuttered, including five in Dublin and four in Cork. The changes will take the lender’s branch network to 88 in the Republic, down from 125 in late 2014.

As previously detailed on Fora, the country’s largest banks have together shed thousands of staff from their retail operations since the financial crisis.

The institutions have blamed changing customer habits, with most banking now done online, for the cuts to their branch networks and consumer-facing operations.

Ulster Bank had been expected to close as many as 30 branches in the latest move, which follows a dramatic downsizing of its branch network in Northern Ireland. The closures south of the border are expected to take place in June and September.

The bank reported a profit of €280 million last year for its UK-based parent, Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Financial Services Union’s Gareth Murphy said the decision was “shocking” and the scale of the cuts was “completely disproportionate and unjustified”.

He said Ulster Bank’s plans also involved some jobs being moved offshore and a reduction in staff in the bank’s risk division.

Difficult decision

In a statement, Ulster Bank Chief Executive Gerry Mallon said: ”Closing a branch is a difficult decision which we do not take lightly, and our branch network remains an important part of how we serve our customers.

“However, the role of the branch continues to move toward advice and away from day-to-day transactions, with only 10% of our customer interactions now happening in branch.”

Mallon added that 62% of customer interactions were through digital channels last year. A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank said an average of 150 customers per week used the branches that are due to be closed.

The bank instead plans to provide ‘mobile banks’ that will travel to rural areas to serve customers. Its services, delivered by An Post, will be extended to include cash and cheque lodgements for personal and business customers.

These are the Ulster Bank branches that will be affected:

  • Dublin (5)  - Dalkey, Donnybrook, Dorset St, Rathmines and Sandyford
  • Cork (4) – Ballincollig, Blackpool, Carrigaline and Fermoy
  • Donegal (2) – Ardara and Raphoe
  • Cavan (2) – Arva and Cootehill
  • Limerick (2) – Castletroy and Newscastlewest
  • Galway (2) – Briarhill and Newcastle
  • Ballyhaunis in Mayo
  • Ballymote in Sligo
  • Carrickmacross in Monaghan
  • Edenderry in Offaly
  • Edgeworthstown in Longford

Reporting by Peter Bodkin and Cliodhna Russell.