Sinn Fein bank protest over Irish ATM withdrawal

Sinn Fein's Senator Niall O Donnghaile and Fra McCann MLA outside the Bank of Ireland HQ in Belfast on 1 September 2017, protesting at its decision to withdraw Irish from ATMs due to lack of demand.
Sinn Fein's Senator Niall O Donnghaile and Fra McCann MLA outside the Bank of Ireland HQ in Belfast on 1 September 2017, protesting at its decision to withdraw Irish from ATMs due to lack of demand.

Sinn Fein has held a protest outside the Bank of Ireland headquarters in Belfast after it dropped the Irish facility on ATMs due to lack of demand.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile and Fra McCann MLA have requested the meeting, the party said, to discuss their current arrangements, provision and plans for the use of Irish in the banks Northern Ireland branches.

They were speaking after their protest at the bank’s headquarters in Belfast on Friday, calling on the bank to reverse their decision.

Mr Ó Donnghaile said: “The removal of the Irish language from Bank of Ireland ATMs in the South a backward step and a denigration of Irish language rights. Today’s protest called on Bank of Ireland to reverse their decision on removing the Irish language option from new ATMs in the South of Ireland.

“The banking sector in Ireland has been extremely poor in facilitating Irish language speakers in the use of the Irish language. It is impossible to get statements, online banking or any customer service in Irish anywhere.

“Bank of Ireland have been unique in making an effort to simply facilitate the Irish language with the provision of ATMs with an Irish option.

“Today myself and Fra McCann MLA handed in letter seeking a meeting with Bank of Ireland management to discuss their current arrangements, provision and plans for such in the North.

“Sinn Fein believes Bank of Ireland and other prominent business institutions should be promoting diversity and multilingualism.

“It is proven that this is advantageous to business broadening out their customer base and enhancing loyalty among those who have the option to do their banking in the language of their choice.”

Earlier this week the bank revealed it is no longer offering customers the opportunity to conduct banking services in Irish on its new ATM network, due to lack of demand.

Since 2010 the lender has been replacing older withdrawal ATMs with newer LATMs – which include lodgment as well as withdrawal services, RTE reported. However, the new machines do not include an Irish language facility.

Bank of Ireland said: “When we analyse our ATMs which provide an Irish option, we find that fewer than 1% of ATM transactions on those devices are completed in Irish.”

Sinn Fein said the Irish option allowed the bank to “show that it values a key element of our identity”.