Northern Ireland news

Arlene Foster joins protest in Belleek against bank closure

The First Minister Arlene Foster chats to Molly Reynolds at the protest in Belleek. Picture by Philip Mulligan
Gerry McLaughlin

SHE may be First Minister but Arlene Foster still took time yesterday to join her constituents in a fight against a bank closure.

The DUP leader told the Bank of Ireland it was "wrong" to pull out of a Fermanagh border village of Belleek.

Ms Foster visited Belleek at the end of a five-day protest against the threatened closure.

More than 7,000 signatures have been gathered telling the bank to reconsider a decision made in July that has sparked fury.

"I am first minister, but I am also the local MLA so I thought it was very important to come here and support the community who have such strong feelings about their last remaining bank in Belleek," Ms Foster said.

"Belleek is a tourist village and has the pottery and is also a frontier village so there are a lot people who come across the border to lodge sterling in the bank. It is something they feel very strongly about as they have gathered over 7000 signatures in a very short time and we are now hoping that the Bank of Ireland will come to Belleek to receive the signatures. It is wrong to close a branch like this."

Politicians in Belleek at the Bank of Ireland closure protest: Sinn Fein representatives Mick Mc Mahon, John Feely, and Anthony Feely, and Tom Elliott Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone

Without the bank, she added, people faced a round trip of 50 miles to Enniskillen.

"If the Bank of Ireland are genuine about delivering services to customers then they should keep this bank open," she added.

"I am hoping that during this so-called consultation period that they actually listen to what people are saying to them because there is no point in having a consultation period if you are just going to ignore what is being said to you."

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