Bank urged to reverse decision to remove Irish option on ATMs

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Gráinne Ní Ghilín hits out at Bank of Ireland’s decision to remove Irish language option from ATMs

Gráinne Ní Ghilín

I called into my local Bank of Ireland branch yesterday to lodge cheques, but also to complain about the bank’s decision to remove the Irish language option from their new lodgement ATMs all over Ireland.

They are gradually replacing the old machines that offered customers a choice between ‘Gaeilge’ and ‘English’ with monolingual ones.

In spirit and in terms of finance, this is a mean and miserly decision.

This is a bank that was bailed out by the citizens of the country upon which it has built its brand since the year 1783.

I have always used the Gaeilge option on the ATM in Glengormley, Co. Antrim, over the years. However, with old machines being replaced, customers are now compelled to use English. We are being denied the choice once available to us.

Those in higher positions had not informed the very helpful cashier who served me yesterday of the “upgrade” (as the bank calls it in their Twitter responses to customer complaints – I call it a downgrade).

I was invited into the branch manager’s office for a discussion and was assured the bank listens deeply when customers are not happy.

The manager told me of her personal connection with the language and members of the next generation of her family who are learning Irish. She certainly wouldn’t want them to be denied the opportunity to use it in their everyday life. Nor would I.

The PR wing of Bank of Ireland has told customers who have complained that it is not “viable” to continue to offer a bilingual service.

Of course, the costs involved in translation would be very small (a few hundred pounds at most), and I imagine implementation wouldn’t cost much either. Multilingual ATMs are in use all over the world, so technology is definitely not an obstacle.

The message received by customers who cherish the Irish language is not that we are not “viable”, but rather that we are not valued and that Bank of Ireland is no longer willing to engage with us in Irish.

Conradh na Gaeilge has invited Bank of Ireland to meet them with a view to rectifying the situation. In the meantime, are there any other banks out there who would welcome the business of bilingual and multilingual customers and all their family and friends?

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