Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has expressed his surprise at Bank of Ireland’s decision to remove the Irish language option from its ATMs. Crowe described the decision as a surprising and retrograde step.

Teachta Seán Crowe said:

“The removal of the Irish language option from Bank of Ireland’s ATMs is a backward step and a denigration of Irish language rights. This uncalled for and retrograde step is out kilter with Irish values and Irish sentiment, and will come as a surprise to many Bank of Ireland customers.

“The banking sector, which is already discredited in many people’s eyes, has been extremely slow in facilitating Irish language speakers. It is currently impossible to get statements, online banking or any customer service in Irish anywhere.

“Bank of Ireland as the largest bank in Ireland has been somewhat unique in making an effort to simply facilitate the Irish language with the provision of ATMs with an Irish option.

“This cost, little if anything, met the needs of tens of thousands of its customers and allowed the bank to show that it values the Irish language, a key element of our identity.

“However, in a very disappointing move it seems that the Bank is rowing back on this small but valued option. There is a serious lack of consideration regarding the Irish language and Irish language rights amongst the private sector which is unacceptable.

“It is well known that the provision of Irish in branding, marketing and customer service is good for business. Even those without the language appreciate it when Irish is valued by private sector business. By this move Bank of Ireland is devaluing the Irish language.

“Irish based banks and their loyal customers have been beset by many catastrophic financial and personal problems in the last decade. Irish citizens and hard pressed taxpayers have had to dig deep and without ever being consulted, have been forced to come to their rescue.

“Surely the very least that Bank of Ireland  could do is include in their corporate responsibility the simple option of communicating with their customers in this cost free manner in the national language of their choice. Shame on Bank of Ireland’s senior management for taking this uncalled for and unnecessary decision.

“This proposal is a retrograde step, it is out of step with Irish values and Irish sentiment, and it should be rescinded.”