The Dunshaughlin branch of AIB is one of 45 set to close across the country this autumn.
Last week's announcement from AIB that is will close its branches in Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne has been met this week with strong criticism from the local community.
The bank stated that the closures will come as a result of a recent review of its retail operations and cost reduction programme. They note a fall in demand for traditional branch services due to improvements in technology and online banking. As a result, 45 branches will close, including those in Dunshauglin and Dunboyne, and another six branches will be amalgamated. AIB say further 16 branches will close during 2013.
AIB customers in the town will now be expected to travel to Ashbourne to do their branch banking.
Fianna Fail Senator Thomas Byrne said that South Meath had suffered a double blow. "Local branches are a pivotal part of so many communities across Co Meath. While I recognise that there is a growing trend of online banking, customer service must remain a top priority for banks. There will be a direct loss of business in Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne as a result of this decision. These were busy outlets".
He called on AIB to revisit these commuter belt closures, "in their own interests at least".
Dunshaughlin SuperValu owner Paul Healy said that he regretted the local branch closure. "The closure will be yet another business in Dunshaughlin to fall in these difficult times and it is particularly sad in the case of AIB as the bank has contributed greatly to both the business and the wider community here".
The closure would mean that existing customers of AIB, of which he was one, would have quite a distant and time-consuming trip to complete what would have been regular transactions at the local branch "where we would have the comfort of dealing with local staff".
Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty said that on first hearing of the closures she was shocked because of the large populations the branches were serving. She said she had checked with staff and found there would be no job losses.
"Our priority must be to ensure no loss of services to AIB's customers by ensuring that businesses continue to be served by the Ashbourne branch and that local services are put in place with An Post as soon as possible."
Fine Gael Cllr Maria Murphy said she was disappointed the branch in Dunboyne will be closed this year.
"We are lucky that in Dunboyne we also have a branch of the Bank of Ireland which predates the AIB branch. I find that both banks are very busy any day I enter. In fact the AIB branch usually has a long queue so I fail to understand the statement by the bank that 'It is difficult to justify maintaining locations where customer usage has decreased significantly'. As an AIB customer that certainly is not my experience."
"Dunboyne is a growth town in which people young and need services. The village of Dunboyne recorded a population increase of 21 percent in the 2011 Census, and like all the towns in South Meath the village has a very high young population. I understand that the AIB Group needs to return the bank to viability, however I believe that their decision regarding the branch in Dunboyne is misguided. Once they close the branch it will be harder for them to get re-established in the future."
"The bank have announced that the business in Dunboyne is being relocated to Ashbourne but there is no public transport between Dunboyne and Ashbourne. It is also unrealistic for local business customers to travel to Ashbourne to conduct their bank business. I can see them all transferring their business across to the Bank of Ireland in Dunboyne. I have contacted the Head of Branch Banking in AIB and asked him to review the decision regarding Dunboyne," Cllr Murphy said.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Noel Leonard also expressed his upset at AIB's decision, voicing his concern at the negative effect the branch closures will have on local business. "In my own town of Dunboyne, the AIB branch is situated on a thoroughfare with several businesses dependent on the footfall generated by the bank. I am extremely concerned at the notion that these businesses will suffer from AIB's decision. I would call on residents of Dunboyne and Dunshaughlin to make a special effort to support businesses in their locality," he said.