Thursday, 5 July 2012

Questions (11, 12, 13, 14)

Dara Calleary

Question:

11 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance his views on the disruption to the economy and consumers from the IT problems in Ulster Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32686/12]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

38 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the action he and his Department officials took during the Ulster Bank IT system crash; if he is satisfied that the problems have been fully addressed and that such a crash is unlikely to occur again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32750/12]

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Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

41 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance the action he has taken since the crash of the IT system at Ulster Bank with respect to ensuring that all other banks operating in the State have adequately protected IT systems and appropriate disaster recovery systems in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32751/12]

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Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

42 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied with the response of the Central Bank of Ireland and the Financial Regulator to the collapse of the Ulster Bank IT system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32752/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11, 38, 41 and 42 together.

I am fully aware of the negative impact that Ulster Bank's technical problems are having on the bank's personal and business banking customers throughout the country. This issue has been ongoing for far too long at this stage and as I have made clear already, it is essential that it be resolved as a matter of absolute priority. From my perspective, it is totally unacceptable that it has taken Ulster Bank so long to solve the technical problems and that customers of that bank have been given mixed messages on when the problems would be resolved.

My officials and the Central Bank are getting regular status updates from the Ulster Bank and are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that the situation is resolved as quickly as possible. In that respect the Central Bank has officials on the ground in Ulster Bank to ensure that immediate priority is given to the backlog issue and ensuring that all customers accounts are brought up to date as soon as possible.

The current focus is to get all transactions processed and following that Ulster Bank has said that they will commence the process of refunding customers for any interest or fees and charges that have occurred as a result of this incident. The Central Bank has also indicted that they will be putting in place a full restitution regime for all persons that have been impacted and that it will work with the Irish Credit Bureau to ensure that customer ratings are not impacted.

The Central Bank met with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and Public Expenditure Reform yesterday. The Central Bank informed the Committee that they have already begun to scope out the parameters of an investigation into the matter with their UK counterparts. In that respect the investigation is complicated by the fact that the payment processing system at Ulster Bank is in fact outsourced to their parent RBS where the technical problems first arose.

All credit institutions are required to have in place contingency and business continuity plans to ensure that they have the capacity to operate on an ongoing basis and limit losses in the event of severe business disruption. They are required to adopt policies and processes to evaluate and manage exposures to operational risk, including low-frequency high-severity events.

It is important that the Central Bank satisfies itself independently, as regulator, that these requirements are being met by other credit institutions to avoid similar problems occurring elsewhere.