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'A backwards step': The Irish language option is no longer available on new Bank of Ireland ATMs

Sinn Féin are not happy with the move from Bank of Ireland, calling it “very disappointing”.

90353986_90353986 Source: SaskoLazarov/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 2.25pm

BANK OF IRELAND has defended the removal of an Irish language option on its new ATMs, despite criticism of the move as a “backwards step”.

The bank was subject to a series of questions on social media about the lack of Irish on some ATMs, despite it being a service long offered by Bank of Ireland machines.

In a series of exchanges on Twitter, conducted in both Irish and English, Bank of Ireland said that an upgraded, newer version of its ATMs meant that the Irish option was no longer available.

The bank also said on Twitter that less than 1% of its customers used the Irish language facility at its ATMs.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a Bank of Ireland spokesperson said that the company has been replacing older ATMs with new lodgement and withdrawal machines since 2010.

“For some considerable period of time now,” they said, “demand for transactions through Irish on our ATM fleet has been falling steadily.

When we analyse our ATMs which provide an Irish option, we find that fewer than 1% of ATM transactions on those devices are completed in Irish. Given this continuing pattern of low and falling demand, since 2010 where ATMs are replaced with newer devices across the country it is not viable to continue to provide an Irish language option on the newer LATM machines.

It added that it continued to provide an Irish language option on ATMs in shops and garages.

In a statement referring to the bank as “Bank of Mandatory English” Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for the Irish language, Peadar Tóibín, called it a “backward step and a denigration of Irish language rights”.

Tóibín bemoaned the refusal of the Irish banking sector to offer its services through Irish and said that Bank of Ireland had been unique in offering it through its ATMs.

“This cost, little if anything, met the needs of thousands of customers and allowed the bank to show that it values a key element of our identity,” the Sinn Féin TD said.

However, in a very disappointing move it seems that the bank is rowing back on this small but valued option.

Tóibín questioned whether the Irish language option on ATMs would still be available in Gaeltacht areas and said that removing the option was “eroding the efforts of the community as well as the government” to encourage the daily use of the Irish language.

He said: “Banks have been beset by many catastrophic problems in the last decade. The citizens of this State have been forced to come to their rescue.

The very least that they could do is include in their corporate responsibility the option of communicating with their customers in this cost-free manner the national language of their choice.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has set up an online petition, calling for the bank to reintroduce the Irish language option.

“Reversing this decision would be of little cost to Bank of Ireland but would be a significant symbolic gesture to Irish speakers right across the country,” he said.

Read: ‘Banks are out of touch’: Bank of Ireland criticised over ad about couple moving back in with parents

Read: Victim of tracker mortgage scandal: ‘If I was six months in arrears they’d be ringing me every day’

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Sean Murray

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