More than 7,000 sign petition opposing bank closure

NI First Minister Arlene Foster joins bank closure protest in Belleek

More than 7,000 sign petition opposing bank closure

First Minister Arlene Foster supporting the protest against the closing of the Bank of Ireland in Belleek with Anne Kilfeather, Bridie Gormley and Eddie John Patton. Photo Thomas Gallagher

By Sue Doherty sue.doherty@donegaldemocrat.com@dgldemocrat

Northern Ireland Assembly First Minister Arlene Foster joined protesters in Belleek a short time ago, supporting their efforts to keep the last remaining bank in the town open.

Ms Foster arrived at half past three and joined the picket outside Bank of Ireland for 15 minutes and she then mingled with locals to find out their views on the proposed closure.

Protests have been held outside the Bank of Ireland on Main Street during the bank's opening hours every day this week.

A petition against the proposed closure has been signed by thousands of people.

Ms Foster told the Donegal Democrat a short time ago that she has now arranged a meeting with Sean Sheehan, Regional Manager of Bank of Ireland NI, in Belleek next week, to accept the petition signed by more than 7,000 people opposed to plan to close the bank.

Praised

The First Minister praised Chamber of Commerce and Belleek Community Association member Bridie Gormley and their group for “not taking no for answer” on this issue.

Seven days ago more than 200 people, many from Donegal, attended a meeting to oppose the closure.

Bridie Gormley said, “This was a cross community and cross border gathering and everyone was in total agreement that we need to do whatever it takes to keep our bank in Belleek.

“Bank of Ireland have suggested that the post office could be used for lodgments and withdrawals. But the post office can only cater for sums of £1,000 at a time so that would not be of much use.

“This is a very busy bank, with 5,000 customers in the region, including many from Donegal, as this is the nearest sterling area for them.

“Already there is uncertainty about Brexit and now we are hit with a double whammy of a threatened closure of the bank."