Bank of Ireland declines to comment on claims it closed Irish Palestine Solidarity accounts
THE Bank of Ireland has refused to comment on claims by the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) that it has closed three bank accounts belonging to the group.
Two accounts in the Republic and one in the north have been shut, according to the IPSC, which has now transferred its southern funds to the Allied Irish Bank and is seeking a new bank for its northern account.
The IPSC claimed that the last correspondence it received from the Bank of Ireland stated: "Following due diligence review, which covered multiple risk factors...(the accounts are) no longer consistent with the risk appetite of the bank."
The IPSC has said the only money it sends to Palestine is to a factory producing scarves in the West Bank, for items which the group purchases.
The IPSC said: "Despite our enquires, the bank has refused to tell us the reason why, after fifteen years, our perfectly legal and transparent activities for Palestinian rights are 'no longer consistent with the bank's risk appetite'."
The IPSC, which said it is considering legal proceedings, has suggested it believes pressure from within Israel to take action against groups which have called for a boycott of its goods and services has contributed to the move.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is a global campaign by Palestinian activists to boycott Israeli goods and services.
The Israeli government has set up a task force to oppose BDS, and last year pledged a reported $25 million to fight it.
In recent months, banks in a variety of countries including Britain, Germany and France have closed down accounts belonging to Palestinian campaign groups.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said: "To close their account citing that they associate with a 'high risk country'...this is not only outrageous; this is insulting to the Palestinian people.
"Bank of Ireland should reopen the account and offer a public explanation as to why this happened in the first place."
The UK's Financial Ombudsman said it was unable to comment on whether it was investigating the matter.
A spokeswoman for the Republic's Financial Ombudsman said: "Unfortunately, due to the confidential nature of our processes, we are not in a position to disclose any information about any individual complaints."
A Bank of Ireland spokeswoman told The Irish News that the bank "could not comment on customer accounts."