The case for cash

Comment & Opinion

LET’S MAKE A STAND Mayo TDs should support motion to prevent cashless society.

ON Wednesday next the Rural Independent Group of TDs are putting forward a motion in the Dáil to protect access to cash, and encourage the Government not to continue encouraging a move towards a ‘cashless society’.
The group is comprised of Deptuties Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Carol Nolan, Michael Healy-Rae and Danny Healy-Rae. The group’s leader, Deputy McGrath, has stated that the motion aims to push back against the trend towards a cashless society, which the group feels is being actively encouraged by the Government.
These TDs strongly believe that such a move would lead to increased government control and surveillance over people’s lives. Therefore, they are taking a bold stance and challenging the notion that cash shouldn’t be phased out entirely, arguing instead that it should continue to be a viable means of payment for all members of society.
We all realise that since the Covid pandemic, there has been a understandable move towards paying for everything with a credit or debit card, but it does seem ridiculous that some retail and hospitality outlets point blank refuse to accept cash for some transactions.
The reaction to AIB’s plans to make 70 branches completely cashless last year spoke volumes. The bank eventually had to row back on the plans due to what it termed ‘public unease’. That unease is still being felt by many people who find themselves unable to use cash as they go about their daily business.
Our own Mayo TDs should also take a stand and support the Rural Independent Group’s motion.
As representatives of rural communities, they should urge the Government to recognise the importance of cash as a means of payment, and take appropriate measures, including legislative protections, to ensure that all members of society can continue to access and use cash, regardless of their location or their ability or willingness to use digital payment methods.
The Rural Independent Group is also calling on the Government to work with financial institutions and payment service providers to maintain the provision of cash services and ensure that the costs of providing these services are not passed on to consumers or small businesses.
To achieve these objectives, the group is demanding that the Government develops Access to Cash legislation, in line with the recommendations of the Retail Banking Review Report 2022, and implements this legislation before the summer recess.
Steps like this will help put groups like older people and the less tech savvy on a safer footing, ensuring they are not left behind, isolated by a reluctance or inability to make digital payments.
It is obvious that there is no turning back from the widespread use of digital payments and credit and debit cards, but cash must be kept as a viable alternative.
During this cost-of-living crisis, we are all acutely aware of how hard earned our money is, and we should be allowed to spend it as we choose.