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Union says meeting with Ulster Bank chief 'provided no reassurance for staff or for customers'

The threat of the bank closing “is growing”, the Financial Services Union said.

A customer at an Ulster Bank ATM in Dublin last year.
A customer at an Ulster Bank ATM in Dublin last year.
Image: Leah Farrell

THE GENERAL SECRETARY of the Financial Services Union (FSU) said he had a “difficult and deeply troubling” meeting with the CEO of Ulster Bank earlier today.

Ulster Bank is carrying out a strategic review of its operations in the Republic of Ireland at the moment. 

The FSU general secretary John O’Connell said the threat of “closure or carve-up of the bank is growing”.

He said a meeting between the union and the bank’s CEO Jane Howard today “provided no reassurance for staff or for customers of Ulster Bank”.

“The CEO refused to answer any questions about the strategic review or to adequately respond to recent media reports about possible talks between NatWest and PTSB,” O’Donnell said this evening. 

“The union left the CEO under no doubt as to the level of anxiety and stress that bank staff are under.

“The situation is now very serious. The threat of a closure or carve-up of the bank is growing, and this will seriously impact communities, customers, staff, and businesses all over Ireland.”

The FSU is Ireland’s main union for the banking and finance sectors.

The union has called on the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Central Bank to “make urgent statements about the situation”. 

“If NatWest decides to exit the Irish market, any solution needs to involve the maximum protection for customers, for jobs and the branch structure,” the general secretary said. 

“There is a lot going on at the moment, we understand that, but this issue cannot be allowed to slip under the radar. A decision is coming, and it is coming fast – action is therefore needed now.”

Ulster Bank is part of the NatWest group based in the UK.

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Paschal Donohoe was told by Ulster Bank in October last year that “no decision has yet been taken” on the future of the bank’s operations in Ireland.

This followed reports that its parent company is considering winding down here. 

Yesterday, the FSU said more than 500 bank staff attended an online meeting to hear of their “fury and dismay” at lack of communication between the bank and its employees. 

The union is campaigning to save the bank’s operation in the Republic of Ireland. 

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