Bank of Ireland plans to close Ballymena branch

Bank of Ireland today announced the outcome of a strategic review of its Northern Ireland business which will affect customers of its branch in Ballymena.

The bank is planning to close the branch and expects this will happen by the end of the year. The Bank’s agreement with the Post Office means that customers will be able to use their local Post Office for their transactions.

Bank of Ireland said the changes were being made in response to significant and accelerating trends in how people are banking.

Councillor Eugene Reid has described the Bank of Ireland branch closure plan in Ballymena as a “hammer blow”.

He said: “This is a hammer blow to Ballymena, just as it is for urban centres across the North. In recent years we have had a migration of business away from the city and town centres across to the internet, followed by the collapse of trade in traditional retail centres as a result of the Covid pandemic. This decision from the Bank of Ireland adds to this spiral of decline.

“I will be seeking to meet with senior officials at Bank of Ireland to secure protections for the customers and staff at the Ballymena branch.”

By the end of the year, the number of Bank of Ireland branches in Northern Ireland will reduce from 28 to 13.

The Bank said personal and business customers will be able to use over 500 Post Office branches to make lodgements of cash and cheques, withdraw cash and make balance enquiries. Bank of Ireland business customers will also be able to access enhanced services including cheque encashment, bulk cash lodgements and obtaining pre-ordered coin at nominated Post Office outlets.

Ian Sheppard, Managing Director NI, Bank of Ireland UK, said: “The changes to our branch network that we’ve announced today are designed to meet today’s demand, while protecting local access to physical banking for those who want it through our existing partnership with the Post Office. This ensures continuity of services locally for both personal and business customers.

“We know news like this can cause concern for some customers. However, these changes will not have immediate effect and there is no need for any customer to do anything right now. We will write to our customers at least 12 weeks prior to the proposed closure date of their branch to ensure customers understand the alternative arrangements available to them including online, in an alternative BOI branch, or at a local post office. We are also putting in place a range of additional supports for senior and vulnerable customers, including proactive calling by branch teams, mobile advice teams and an over 65’s and carers telephone line.”