Northern Ireland

Bank of Ireland: Eight branches closing and up to 54 staff redundant

Bank of Ireland
Image caption The bank will have 28 branches in Northern Ireland following the closures

Bank of Ireland is to close eight branches in Northern Ireland and make up to 54 staff redundant.

The branches to close are in Antrim, Castlereagh, Draperstown, Belleek, Castlederg, Newtownards, Maghera and Donegall Square South, Belfast.

Bank of Ireland closed nine other Northern Ireland branches in January 2013.

The bank said there would be no compulsory redundancies and staff would have the opportunity for redeployment.

It said the branches did not do sufficient business to sustain them in the long-term.

The bank will have 28 branches in Northern Ireland after the closures.

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Media captionBridie Gormley, the chairperson of Belleek Chamber of Commerce, says they will fight the closure of the bank "to the bitter end"

It is understood the closure of the Bank of Ireland branch in Belleek, County Fermanagh, will mean there is no longer any bank in the village.

Bridie Gormley, chairperson of Belleek Chamber of Commerce, said the news had come as a "huge shock" and would mean a "round trip" of up to two and a half hours for those people who wanted to bank at a branch.

"That's not feasible and the people of Belleek will not sit back and take this easily," she said. We will fight it to the bitter end

"We need a bank in this town. It's a service we cannot do without."

Image caption The Bank of Ireland branch in Belleek, County Fermanagh, is among those set to close

John Campbell, BBC News NI business editor

All of Northern Ireland's 'big four' banks have been closing branches in response to customers moving online and to cut costs.

Branches are an increasingly unloved part of retail banking - at least among the people who run banks.

They have chunky fixed costs, such as rent and rates, and the number of customers using them has tumbled as more banking moves online.

One senior banker told me he sees the future of branches as being a bit like car show rooms.

In other words there won't be many of them and the typical customer will venture into them only once every few years.

The Donegall Square branch premises will become the bank's first 'enterprise lounge' in Northern Ireland.

It will offer entrepreneurs and business start-ups free facilities and services.

The Financial Services Union said the move was "regrettable and irresponsible."

"The decision to close branches is not taken lightly, and we understand that it will be disappointing for those customers who use them," the bank's Sean Sheehan said.

"A key priority will be to ensure customers understand the alternative arrangements available, and to maintain continuity of customer service."

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