News & Media

Ulster Bank Exit a hammer blow for Staff and Customers

19 February 2021

Statement by Ged Nash TD
Spokesperson on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform
  • Ulster Bank staff terms and conditions must be protected in any ultimate sale or merger
  • Opportunity for third banking force must not be missed by government
  • Immediate meeting needed between Minister for Finance, opposition and stakeholders

In response to the announcement that Ulster Bank is to exit the Irish banking market Labour’s Finance spokesperson Ged Nash said:

“This devastating news is a hammer blow for the 2,800 Ulster Bank staff, for their customers and for businesses across Ireland.

“My immediate thoughts and concerns are with the bank’s dedicated staff whose future is uncertain. Any sale or potential merger must respect the right of staff to have their existing terms and conditions transferred with them and compulsory redundancies should be off the table.

“The Minister for Finance has repeatedly said that any decision by NatWest on the future of Ulster Bank is for them to make.

“Now that decision has been made there is an onus on the Minister to take on the responsibility to chart a way forward in the interests of staff, customers and competition.

"What we need to avoid is the piecemeal dismantling of the bank and it's operations by vulture funds and other Irish banks which will damage any effort to create a real third force. It is incumbent on the government and the Minister for Finance to drive such an outcome rather than acting as commentators.

“The bank and its assets are now vulnerable and any fire sale of assets to vulture funds must be categorically ruled out.

“This challenge for the banking sector represents an opportunity if the Minister for Finance is willing to grasp it.

“The State is the majority shareholder in Permanent TSB and has behaved like a sleeping partner and not a majority owner. With some imagination from government the long hoped for third banking force could be formed out of the ashes of this crisis for Irish banking.

“The Labour Party and other stakeholders are prepared to be constructive and engage with government to secure as many jobs as possible and to help reframe the Irish banking sector in a way that will provide choice for consumers and support our economic recovery.

“I am urging the Minister to arrange an urgent meeting with all stakeholders and opposition spokespersons on this basis.”