Maiden Dáil Éireann speech of Patricia Ryan TD
“Thank you Ceann Comhairle,
I wish to ask the Minister for Finance to do everything in his power to ensure that Bank branches that have closed “temporarily” because of Covid-19, reopen when it is safe to do so.
On the 24th of March Bank of Ireland closed its branches in Monasterevin and Kilcullen along with approximately 99 other branches throughout the country. Most of these branches are in small rural towns. They are integral parts of the community. These smaller branches are a key part of the local economy in towns like Monasterevin and Kilcullen.
They are particularly important to older people who are not equipped to follow the trend that the banks are pushing, towards online banking. I have written to Gavin Kelly, CEO of Retail Ireland for Bank of Ireland, and despite being asked directly if he can confirm that the branches in Monasterevin and Kilcullen will reopen, he refused to confirm this.
The presence of a bank in small towns is a key reason why small businesses choose to locate there. They are also an important consideration when people choose to move to rural areas.
We have already seen Covid-19 used as an excuse by Debenhams to close its Irish stores and I would not like to see this crisis used by our very profitable banks to offload branches that may not be as profitable. And more importantly, to offload workers who may be on a higher rate of pay because of their experience. I am glad to see that the Debenhams workers have a very active campaign aptly named “The devil wears Debenhams.” I urge people to stand in solidarity with employees of Debenhams in Ireland, and not to purchase items from Debenhams under any circumstances.
This is a company that has transferred assets to England, in an apparent attempt to avoid having to make redundancy payments due to staff here.
Workers is Laura Ashley, Oasis and Warehouse have also become victims of the virus of greed.
It is high time we had a government that will stand up for ordinary workers and their families. One that puts the common good ahead of vested interests.
We need to ensure that the banks, which will not pay corporation tax for many years to come, make some effort to show contrition for what happened in the decade appropriately referred to as the naughties, and the very least we can expect is that local branches in small towns stay open and available to their customers.
As this is my maiden speech, I would like to thank the people of South Kildare and the Portarlington area who put their trust in me and in Sinn Féin. I would like to assure them that I will work to the best of my ability to represent them in this house. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go léir.