Banks must keep Government and customers informed about any future decisions affecting services to the public.

That’s the view of Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey who has welcomed AIB’s decision to back down on what he described as “a tone deaf decision to abandon communities across the country and leave them with no financial services.

“I wrote to AIB chief executive Colin Hunt earlier this week to convey the anger and annoyance in communities faced with the consequences of the bank’s ill conceived  decision to withdraw cash services and ATM machines from 70 of its branches,” Deputy Carey explained.

“I asked Mr Hunt to abandon the strategy which would have affected AIB branches in Kilrush, Killaloe, Ennistymon and Shannon, rendering them cashless from September and October.

“I informed him that I had received a large volume of contact from concerned businesses and individuals over the decision which was grossly unfair to AIB customers and the hinterland that these branches serve,” he explained.

“While I’m glad that the bank listened to its customers and public representatives and abandoned the plan, the consequences show there are lessons to be learned for all banks in how they treat customers.

“All customers, particularly those who are vulnerable and do not bank online, are entitled to full access to basic banking services and should not worry about how they will make deposits or withdrawals simply because they prefer cash transactions.

“As part of their license, banks should be obliged to provide an expected service such including cash transactions throughout their network in order to ensure that decisions such as that recommended by the board of AIB don’t happen again.

“The State is a significant shareholder in AIB and they have a duty to keep Government informed of major decisions which would have a potential negative effect on customers,” Deputy Carey added.