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Peer calls for more Northern Ireland banking hubs as local branch closures continue

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Rogan has warned the Government that the ongoing round of bank closures is having “a profound and detrimental impact on community life in Northern Ireland” and called for more banking hubs to be created.

Speaking in a debate on UK bank closures earlier today, Lord Rogan told the House of Lords that more than 50 bank branches had closed in Northern Ireland since 2020 with that number set to grow this year.

He said: “When banks close branches, their free ATM services are generally casualties of the cuts.  As in Britain, trying to find a high street cashpoint in Northern Ireland is often the worst kind of treasure hunt with minimal chance of finding gold at the end of the rainbow.  More often than not, the only ATMs available are in shops or stations where a charge is often levied for even the smallest amount of withdrawal.”

He added: “I do understand the dash towards a cashless society, but surely some modicum of common sense must prevail when it comes to older people – including my wife and I – who have spent a lifetime with the comfort of having cash in our pockets and are not about to change their habits now. Put simply, internet banking is not for everyone – particularly those of us of a certain vintage.”

Lord Rogan told peers that Northern Ireland’s first banking hub opened in Kilkeel last month, with four more due to be established in the coming months.

He said: “Whilst they may not deliver the quality of service of local bank branches, they are better than nothing – which is what many small communities in Northern Ireland have sadly been left with.”

The Ulster Unionist peer commended not for profit company Cash Access UK “for opening these hubs in Northern Ireland and I hope that many more will follow.”

And he called on Treasury Minister Baroness Vere to ensure the Government provides it with the necessary support to significantly expand the number of hubs it operates.

He said: “That particularly applies to Northern Ireland because, whilst five banking hubs by the end of this year are incredibly welcome, there is clearly a need for many, many more if communities – especially rural communities – are not to be left behind.”

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Picture Lord Rogan of Lower Iveagh (courtesy of UK Parliament)

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