Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank to close nine branches in Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank
Image caption It is understood 16 jobs will be affected by the branch closures

Ulster Bank is to close nine of its 64 branches in Northern Ireland from October.

The bank said it has made the decision because more of its customers are using digital banking.

It is understood it will affect six branch staff and a further 10 people who work in mortgage broker services.

Sean Murphy from the bank said: "Closing a branch is never an easy decision and one we do not take lightly."

He added: "Ulster Bank still retains Northern Ireland's largest bank branch network."

The branches closing are:

  • Newtownbreda, Belfast
  • Antrim Road, Belfast
  • Boucher Road, Belfast
  • Woodstock Road, Belfast
  • Monkstown, County Antrim
  • Bangor, County Down
  • Kircubbin, County Down
  • Garvagh, County Londonderry
  • Millennium Forum, Derry city

Mr Murphy said the company was "writing to customers of these branches to inform them of alternative branch locations in their area and the range of banking services available on their mobiles, online, telephone and in post offices".

He added: "We are also communicating directly with staff in those affected branches."

Image caption A branch on the Woodstock Road, Belfast, is among those being closed

Recently, First Trust announced the closure of 15 branches in Northern Ireland.

Branch closures are "not good for customers, not good for staff, and it's not good for the Northern Ireland economy", according to Larry Broderick of the Financial Services Union, which represents staff in the finance sector.

"This is based on the fact that the banks want to be more profitable, and that's not fair to a lot of rural customers who need branches," he added.

Online and telephone banking services would be "no consolation to customers who actually need some place to put cash in", Mr Broderick said.

'Significant change'

The chief executive of the Consumer Council, John French, said Ulster Bank's announcement would mean "more consumers are left without a local branch and the facilities they provide".

"The bank branch network in Northern Ireland has undergone significant change," Mr French said.

"By the end of this year, around 38% of bank branches will have closed since 2010."

The Consumer Council is holding a series of drop-in information sessions in libraries across Northern Ireland for people affected by recent bank branch closures in their area.

The events begin on Friday and full details are available on their website.

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