by Marian Duggan
The president of Ballyhaunis Chamber of Commerce has warned Mayo towns they face a struggle if reports that the company behind Ulster Bank is winding down operations here materialise.
In recent years Ballyhaunis has lost AIB and Ulster Bank branches and Bank of Ireland’s services and hours have been reduced considerably resulting in a reduction in footfall in the town.
“Slowly but surely services in rural Ireland are being depleted. The villages are gone and now they are starting on the bigger towns. It’s rural decline,” said Mr Forde.
“How can businesses survive if there are no services around them?” he asked.
Ballina, Belmullet, Castlebar, Claremorris, and Westport all have Ulster Bank branches.
After the closure of Ulster Bank in Ballyhaunis Bank of Ireland gave a commitment to customers but then services were reduced and hours were reduced when the pandemic hit and have not been restored.
“The service is not adequate for a town the size of Ballyhaunis and people are being forced to go elsewhere,” said Mr Forde.
In a response to reports that it is considering closing Ulster Bank branches, NatWest, the parent company behind the bank, has said its strategy to grown business in Ireland is under review.