It is extraordinary how little scrutiny has been applied to the Central Bank’s role in the decision by AIB to suspend cash facilities in large swathes of the country.
While the decision has been reversed, it has been done so for the worst of reasons - political pressure and expediency.
There has been – as far as I can see – no real examination of the regulatory framework applying to banking in Ireland.
We have not been told why, with over a million customers and over 140 years presence in the country, Ulster Bank decided to leave.
They had a well-established branch network and a good customer base, but yet we see Bank of Ireland and AIB both making significant profits in the same marketplace.
It is clear both banks would rather further rationalise their branch network and get out of the cash handling business so that they can take on their more electronically-focused rivals.
Even the scales
So why not even up the scales? For example, make it a condition of obtaining a licence that a cash service must be offered.
Also, why not give consumers the legal entitlement to settle their payments with either cash or a credit/debit card - in other words remove the right that seems to have crept in unofficially that retailers and consumer facing businesses can insist on non-cash payment by way of a credit/debit card.
The European Central Bank has constantly stressed the importance of the euro as a currency and as a medium of exchange.
It would seem logical that in the operation of a full national banking service that those institutions offering such a service would gain some favourable treatment from the Central Bank as the banking regulator.
For example they could be compelled to hold a lower proportion of their capital with the Central Bank than their more modern colleagues operating from a single central office in Dublin.
For Government, it is a basic exercise in recognising the various competing needs of society and legislating for those needs accordingly.
We have made the same basic mistake in housing, where we have opted for quick-fix solutions that penalised the individual family buyers who should have been the focus of Government policy all along.