Bank of Ireland has rowed back on a proposal to force all customers to make automated transactions for withdrawals of less than €700 or lodgements of less than €3,000.

The bank has insisted that elderly customers will still be able to use the in-branch services after they had announced new restrictions on the amount of money customers can withdraw or lodge in a branch with a teller.

Earlier today, the bank said customers will soon no longer be able to withdraw less than €700 or lodge less than €3,000 at the counter in some of its branches.

The bank was criticised by a number of politicians and charities who said the bank was ignoring the needs of its older customers with the new rules.

In a statement this afternoon, the bank clarified that elderly customers will still be able to use the in-branch services.

"Bank of Ireland would like to confirm that vulnerable customers, together with those elderly customers who are not comfortable using self-service channels or other technology solutions, will be assisted by branch staff to use the available in-branch services," the bank said.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had described the bank's decision as "unnecessary and surprising".

Some Labour representatives urged customers to switch banks in protest.

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said the push towards automated transactions was unacceptable and he called on the Government to intervene.

Deputy McGrath said: "Bank of Ireland is clearly in a panic following the public backlash against its announcement yesterday.

"I am deeply suspicious about Bank of Ireland's statement that "vulnerable customers, together with those elderly customers who are not comfortable using self-service channels or other technology solutions, will be assisted by branch staff to use the available in-branch services.

"This sounds to me like Bank of Ireland intends to have staff on the floor of its branches directing all customers towards in branch ATMs and so-called "quick lodge" machines. This is not the same as allowing customers to be able to conduct their business at a counter, in the manner in which they are familiar with.

"There is every likelihood that Bank of Ireland would withdraw this facility of assisting customers with ATM and quick lodge transactions once the initial furore has died down.

"It is imperative now that Bank of Ireland clarify exactly what they are planning," he added.

Justin Moran of Age Action Ireland said "it's good" that BOI are willing to reach out to people who are going to be discomforted by this, but "there's very short notice for the lead-in of these new changes".

He also said that older customers are concerned they won't have a relationship with bank staff, but he acknowledged that "things have to move forward".

"Bank of Ireland needs to make a decision about whether it's there to service its customers, or whether it's less interested in its customers,” said Mr Moran.

According to the National Digital Strategy, the majority of people aged 60 and over have never been online. It said only 3% of people aged over 75 have ever used the internet.