Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has described the Bank of Ireland’s decision to close their branch in Dunleer as ‘a slap in the face to its customer in the area’.
Cllr McGeough said “Dunleer is progressive community with a strong industry base with a number of very successful community led initiatives that have worked hard to improve the quality of life for citizens and the loss of the Bank of Ireland branch in the area is a huge blow not only to those who reside in the village itself but also to the outlying surrounding areas.”
The Bank of Ireland announced the closure of 103 of its branches across Ireland with Dunleer the only branch in County Louth facing closure.
Cllr McGeough said “I am very concerned at this particular closure because it is the older people who are once again going to suffer. This pandemic has increased anxiety among our citizens and has highlighted the inequality in our society as businesses have been forced to go online while those who are not ‘tech savvy’ or ‘digitally minded’ have been left behind to fend for themselves.
“This is yet another example where big banks ‘assume’ that everyone has a computer, knows how to use a computer, has a sufficient level of literary or has adequate broadband in this rural area. This is a slap in the face for all those customers from the area that have been loyal for probably most of their lives and to make the decision in the middle of a Pandemic when people are already feeling isolated is unforgivable.”
“I am calling on the Bank of Ireland to reverse this decision and think again about the effect it would have on their customers in Dunleer.”
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called for moneylenders to be banned from using social media as a means of deciding on the credit worthiness of applicants.
MacManus was commenting after a major European report singled out a specific Irish moneylender for using this practice. The report from Finance Watch quotes Provident’s own website as stating “ As part of our ongoing commitment to understanding our customers better, we sometimes research comments and opinions made public on social media sites. We sometimes also match information on these sites with the data we hold to undertake behavioral analysis and assist with credit decisioning.”
“It is shocking that a moneylender can openly admit to using social media as a means of deciding on credit worthiness. Unfortunately, as the report points out a lack of detail in EU legislation in this area means they can get away with this.
“The use of social media in assessing credit worthiness raises many issues of data protection. There is of course a question of basic ethics here.
“Furthermore, it also suggests that the decision making process is not adhering to any rational and accountable factors. In short, relying on social media can and will lead to bad credit decisions and consequent difficulties for borrowers.
“I support the report’s call for “detailed rules in the CCD (Consumer Credit Directive) concerning which specific information that should be used to perform a creditworthiness assessment. The assessment should be based only on information needed to allow for an adequate personal budget analysis (data on income and expenditures), including all on-going credit and debts.”
“I will be raising this issue with the Central Bank and the EU Commission immediately. Sinn Féin is championing legislation to cap moneylenders’ rates but as this European report show that is only one of the problems with how moneylenders operate in Ireland. Change at state and EU level will help ordinary workers get fair credit at a fair price.”
Sinn Féin MEP challenges Von Der Leyen on “lack of engagement” over Article 16 shambles
Today in the European Parliament, Ireland’s Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus questioned the Commission on its “Outrageous” attempt to use Article 16 of the Irish Protocol.
Speaking from the floor of Parliament MacManus said, “It is unacceptable that the Commission didn’t see the potential of destabilising the Withdrawal Agreement and the Good Friday Agreement by proposing the use of Article 16 of the Irish Protocol. We must ensure that the fiasco isn’t repeated.”
The Sinn Féin MEP also used his speaking time to call for an openness in communication between Brussels, Dublin and Belfast on all such matters, requesting a “structural commitment with the north of Ireland at all levels, recognising its special status as defined in the Protocol.”
MacManus concluded the address by urging “consistent dialogue with the Joint First Ministers” and for an EU understanding of their responsibilities to Irish Citizens in the six counties. “There needs to be a systemic engagement with citizens, communities and their elected representatives. We must find a way to ensure that EU decisions that directly affect nearly two million north of Ireland citizens – currently without their input – is addressed and resolved. There must be no democratic deficit.”
Speaking immediately after the debate MEP MacManus said “In my opinion it is deeply concerning that the EU did not see the potential for destabilisation of the agreement. This cannot happen again, and you can be sure that we will be working with colleagues across Parliament to ensure it never does!
MacManus concluded by expressing concern on how the Commission are handling the situation. “The silence we’ve witnessed today from President Von Der Leyen and the Commission despite numerous questions regarding the Article 16 debacle is nothing short of unacceptable. It is certainly a cause for grave concern. During many questions from Irish MEPs and others during the course of debate, we saw notable absences and a complete silence in terms of our search for answers to the Commission’s mishandling of the crisis.”
Councillor Edel Corrigan has warned people walking in St Helena’s Park to be wary of the state of the footpaths following the recent bad weather.
Some of the pathways are impassable, forcing walkers to manoeuvre round them onto the grass area which is extremely mucky and slippery.
Cllr Corrigan said “I am think of older people here having to decide to risk the mud or to wade through the water and who may find themselves losing their balance.
“I have contacted the Council who have agreed to put a temporary measure in place this week. That particular part of the Park has a high water table
anyway so with the added rain the grassy area has become saturated and that’s why we have the muck.
“Normally this wouldn’t arise but with the increase in the number of people out walking now because of Covid and more footfall walking around the large puddle it has exacerbated the problem in the grassy area.
“I would ask that people take care until these temporary measures can be put in place.”
Cllr Corrigan & Eugene Garvey survey the muck
Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has called on the government to review the ban on music and dancing at weddings.
The Louth Deputy said: “There are many people out there who have decided to continue with their wedding plans and have made huge sacrifices to do so.
“Couples have cut guest lists and changed venues in order to comply with the public health regulations. In spite of the difficulty this has caused, these couples have adapted and persevered because they want to get married and have a great day celebrating their love with their families and friends.
“However, the reaction from couples getting married to the most recent decision by the government and Fáilte Ireland to ban music and dancing at weddings has been one of extreme disappointment. The couples I have spoken to feel this is a mean-spirited decision by the government which will only serve to ruin their wedding day.
“The public health restrictions are already very specific and restrictive – 25 people only at a wedding – so this is a strange decision.
“This ban is not stated in the government’s regulations and has only subsequently been decided by the Minister for Health, the Minister for Tourism and Fáilte Ireland. This matter should be reviewed by government so couples can have some sort of music and dancing at their weddings in a safe and secure way.”