Last Bank Gone

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

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THERE are fears that Rathfriland town centre could become a ghost town once its last remaining bank closes in six months' time.

The Ulster Bank on Church Square will close on 6 June next year with the bank blaming the closure on more customers using digital banking services.

Rathfriland and its surrounding rural area will be left with no bank as two others, the Northern Bank and Bank of Ireland, have also closed in the last six years.

Ulster Bank has stressed it will ensure a wide variety of banking services will still be available, saying that it offers 24/7 telephone, online and mobile banking services which are accessible through the Post Office.

However businesses owners and residents have said the only bank closing is like taking the heart out of Rathfriland.

Robert Graham, proprietor of Graham's Ice Cream, "cannot get his head around" the decision to close the bank as it is "a busy bank".

"It is absolutely disgraceful. I know if I don't get into the bank on a Friday morning there is no point going as it is always queued.

"We need to secure the heart of the town, a town which is already fighting to stay up." John Murray, owner of Rathfriland Hardware, says the closure will leave "a big void" in the town.

Katie Banks owner, Kathy Wilson described the closure as "just another kick in the teeth for small businesses".

"I just fear for the town centre with the closure of the only bank. As a small business owner, I use the bank on a daily basis and can't put into words how much I will miss it."

Meanwhile, a Rathfriland Credit Union spokesman says they were also "disappointed" to learn that the bank will be closing as they used the bank facilities and will now be "inconvenienced by the closure".



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