A section of the attendance in Raphoe tonight. Photo Brian McDaid.
More than one hundred members of the local community have called for the Ulster Bank to overturn its decision to close its branch in Raphoe in three months time.
There was a large turnout at a meeting in Raphoe this evening where the community said it will do everything it can to make the bank reverse its decision.
The bank is also planning to close its branch in Ardara and the union representing bank workers says the number of staff in Letterkenny will also be reduced.
Around 20 job losses are feared between the three branches.
If carried through, the decision will leave a town that once had three banks with none.
Members of the community in Raphoe were travelling to Ardara to attend a meeting to lend their support to the community there.
Minister for State Joe McHugh, TD Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher and councillors Liam Doherty and Gerry Crawford attended the meeting.
A meeting has been organised between local political representatives and senior bank officials next Wednesday in Dublin to discuss the proposed closures.
Gareth Murphy, Senior Industrial Relations Officer with the Financial Services Union, said staff in the Raphoe branch are devastated by the decision. He said compulsory redundancies are possible at the three Donegal branches.
“This is a shocking decision and a shocking decision first and foremost for the community of Raphoe. People here should make their voice heard to the new CEO that this is not a good decision,” he said.
Minister McHugh said information is needed about the branch and he questioned the bank’s contention that there are only 30 customers a day.
He said on a visit to the bank today he saw 20 customers in a half hour.
“Your response is unanimous. You want to keep it open but we have a very difficult and hard job to do,” he told the meeting.
Deputy Gallagher said the figure of 30 customers a day “was absurd”.
“They have a moral obligation to the people of this area. People should not have to travel elsewhere,” he said.
Local people were called upon to voice their opinion to bank management and tell them that they will not keep their business with the bank if it leave the town.
Ann Harkin, manager of the Raphoe Livestock Mart, said feelings are running very high at the decision.
“This is very, very important for our community.The Ulster Bank is all we have left here as a lifeline. Everyone wants to tell Ulster Bank how important it is to have a bank in our town,” she said.
“We need to do whatever it takes to tell Ulster Bank they need to stay here. We have to do whatever it takes to keep this town open for business.”
Chair of the Irish Farmers Association in Donegal, Michael Chance, said the decision was a bad commercial one.
“Raphoe is central to the farming community in the whole of Donegal,” he said.