There was anger and frustration at the weekend when the only free 24-hour cash dispenser in Portrush town centre was out of action, leading to a local councillor saying he feels the town has been ‘abandoned by our banks’.
Locals and visitors to the Co Antrim seaside town, which welcomes upwards of 50,000 visitors a year, were complaining as they were forced to turn to other ATMs which charge almost £2 per transaction.
The 24-hour Ulster Bank cash dispenser on Eglinton Street was out of service from Friday, through the very busy weekend and on Tuesday afternoon it was still displaying a ‘system error message’.
One visitor to the town described it as ‘a joke’ with another commenting: “I’m just off the train with children and it’s not working. The other free one is too far away and it is ridiculous I have to pay to withdraw my own money.”
Alderman Norman Hillis, a Causeway DEA councillor and local businessman, described the current lack of free cash dispensers as ‘totally unacceptable’.
“We are a leading holiday resort with limited free cash machines which does not make sense,” he said. “When Danske Bank closed in Portrush I complained bitterly but the reaction was ‘there is a cash machine at the Causeway Street Petrol Station’ which is at least half-a-mile from the town centre.
“Whilst the now closed Ulster Bank has still got a cash machine, it was not working at the weekend. I feel we have been abandoned by our banks and wonder what will happen when hopefully we get back to many more international tourists visiting in the 2022 season.
“We will want them to spend their cash but it looks like they will not be getting it from a machine in Portrush. The same applies in Portstewart and Bushmills as unfortunately not everyone uses credit/cash cards.”
When contacted, an Ulster Bank spokesperson said: “Our ATM was damaged by recent heavy rain and we’re taking all necessary steps to get it fixed quickly. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”