West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Petition launched to 'Save Gortin Bank'

Published: 23 November, 2014

Following the announcement on Friday that Ulster Bank is set to close its Gortin Branch next February, a public petition has been organised to enable the local community to vent their opposition to the plan.

The petition was circulated to local businesses and public outlets by Declan Mc Aleer MLA and Cllr Sean Clarke on Saturday afternoon.

According to Mr Mc Aleer 'There is a palpable sense of anger in the community that the local bank is set to be close in February.

'The business people we visited use the bank at least once every day. They find facilities such as the night safe and cheque lodgements particularly useful and with uncertainty over the future of the cash machine are anxious that people will have to leave the community to get cash and this could have a detrimental impact on the local economy.

'If services are re-located to a larger branch such as Omagh, this will necessitate a 20 mile round trip and place even more strain on businesses in these austere economic times.

Cllr Clarke added 'We also spoke to representatives of community and voluntary groups who use the bank and are similarly anxious about the impact the proposed closure will have on the services they provide.

'There was serious concern raised about how this move will impact on older people and vulnerable groups who get paid their benefits into their bank accounts and who will now find difficulty in accessing their payments.

'Banks are increasingly moving towards on-line services but there are a lot of people who are not IT competent and do not have access to a computer. This is compounded by the fact that Gortin is a mobile 'knot spot' and broadband provision is very poor.

'The removal of this bank will leave a vast area of Mid Tyrone and the Glenelly Valley without local banking services, the last bank in nearby Newtownstewart closed 2 years ago. This decision was obviously not rural-proofed as it will increase isolation and vulnerability in one of the most dispersed rural communities in the north.

Mr Mc Aleer concluded 'Along with Pat Doherty MP, we have requested a meeting with the senior management of Ulster Bank and will use this opportunity to highlight the impact that their closure plan will have on Gortin and the wider area.

'We intend to present the public petition to senior management to highlight the widespread public opposition to the move and urge them to live up to their social responsibilities. We will do everything in our power to keep this vital service in Gortin'.