Up to 40 jobs are to go in the banking sector after Ulster Bank announced it is to close 11 branches across Northern Ireland.
The closures are latest in a series of cost saving measures by the bank, citing reduced demand for face to face contact in traditional branches.
The branches marked for closure are: Ballyclare, Dromore, Moira, Draperstown, Dungiven, Portrush, Killyleagh, Rathfriland, Castlederg, Irvinestown and Stewartstown,
“Banking has changed radically in recent years,” said Sean Murphy, managing director for personal banking at Ulster Bank NI.
“More and more of our customers are using digital technology and fewer are using our branch network.”
Stating that the closures will take place between May and June next year, Mr Murphy said the bank was committed to reducing staff numbers on a voluntary basis.
“Closing a branch is never an easy decision and one we do not take lightly. We are also communicating directly with staff in those affected branches.”
The latest closure announcement comes weeks after six former Ulster Bank premises were put on the market after their closure was announced in March of this year.
Mr Murphy said the bank recognise customers expected different services from their bank adding that Ulster continued to invest in a range of channels to improve access as well as “ongoing education for customers in how to make best use of these alternatives”.
“We will also be introducing additional digital and community support roles to assist with this transition,” he added.
The bank would also be writing to customers to tell them about alternative branches in their area he said.
“While we continue to keep our network under review in response to changing customer demand, we still have Northern Ireland’s largest bank branch network.
Alliance South Antrim MLA David Ford has said he is disappointed by the announcement Ballyclare will lose its branch.
“It is a disappointing move by Ulster Bank, especially considering Ballyclare is a vibrant community with a significant population. Ulster Bank have stated the move is due to an increasing number of customers doing their banking online. But this attitude dismisses many residents of Ballyclare, particularly older ones, who prefer to use the bank in person.
“This is also concerning news for staff at the branches, some of whom will be expected to seek voluntary redundancy.
“I will seek to meet with Ulster Bank to see what measures can be put in place to mitigate the effects of closing these branches, both for customers and staff.”