Brendan Smith: Banking sector review welcome but wide stakeholder engagement vital

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed a proposed review of the banking sector in Ireland, but has urged the Minister for Finance to make its remit as wide as possible to include stakeholder views from right across both business and community.

In a series of Dáil questions to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I hope that along with the banks, customers, staff, management, trade unions, business, employers and employers’ groups, that community interests can also be represented on that forum. It is important that the views of communities throughout the country are represented, as we reflect them in this forum daily. It is important that communities have a mechanism to deliver their views on the banking sector and how we go forward.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD called on the Minister to ensure that those in the community who might not have good literacy or IT skills are not left behind with little or no access to vital banking services, especially in light of the slow retreat of high street retail bank branches in many towns and villages across the country in recent times.

He stated: “Those people find it difficult to transact business today, especially when they cannot call into a local branch. It behoves all of us to ensure that there is an opportunity for people to transact their business in a practical way, especially people who may not have had the opportunity to acquire IT skills or who may not have access to broadband etc. It is important that those views are represented.”

Deputy Smith added: “We often think of ATMs as a mechanism to withdraw cash, but they are an important lodgement facility as well. In public banking meetings throughout the country, local communities expressed concern about hospitality and other retail businesses having to carry large amounts of cash and not having the opportunity to lodge that cash in a timely manner locally. We need to address the issue of access to cash.”

Deputy Brendan Smith added that the banking sector review also needs to look into the area of increased competition within the marketplace.

“There is now a real need for competition within the market to give customers the best possible options available to them and make informed choices on the best banking options to fit their financial needs,” concluded the Cavan and Monaghan TD.

ENDS 10/11/2021