19 February 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Michael McGrath, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and TD for Cork South Central (based in Carrigaline), has said today’s announcement that Ulster Bank is to withdraw from the Irish market is a serious blow for the staff, customers, and competition in the wider banking sector.
Minister McGrath, however, said customers should not panic and should instead take advice before making any decision about products they currently have with the bank.
Minister McGrath commented, “While Ulster Bank’s withdrawal is going to be gradual and phased, this is nonetheless a deeply disappointing decision by the NatWest group which will have significant consequences given the size of Ulster Bank’s presence in the Irish banking market. The immediate priorities now are to ensure the staff are treated fairly and that the interests of their customers are protected.
“I welcome the fact that other Irish banks are seriously examining the possibility of purchasing loan portfolios and other products from Ulster Bank. It is encouraging that the emphasis is being placed on engaging with institutions who can provide customers with full banking services in the Irish market. In this regard, I welcome the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with AIB in relation to a portfolio of performing commercial loans which provides for the transfer of staff involved in the day-to-day management of this loan book.
“Ulster Bank customers should not panic or make any quick decisions. Tracker mortgage customers, for example, who wish to keep their existing tracker product need to be particularly careful about switching their mortgage to another provider as this will almost certainly result in them losing their tracker. On the other hand, if their mortgage is sold, the existing terms and conditions – including the tracker rate – transfer across. Customers should consider their options carefully, and there is no pressure on them in the short-term to do anything.
“We need a banking sector that offers customers choice through competition and enables the Irish economy to grow in the period ahead. I will work closely with Minister Paschal Donohoe, Minister of State Sean Fleming and colleagues across government to manage the fallout from this decision by NatWest and to build a banking sector that is diverse, modern and that serves customers and the Irish economy. ”