Ulster Bank Ireland is a significant employer with 88 branches and a significant market share in terms of mortgage lending and SME lending and it is important in terms of providing competition in the Irish market.
I am aware of the media reports suggesting that NatWest is engaged in a strategic review of its operations including those of Ulster Bank Ireland. The Government has no formal role in such a review or any commercial decisions that result, as these are a matter for the Board and Management of the Bank and its parent company, NatWest. I understand that the process is ongoing and that no decisions have been made. I cannot comment further and will not speculate on the possible outcomes.
I have not met with Ulster Bank on this issue but the Deputy should be aware that I met with the CEO of Ulster Bank alongside the CEOs of the other retail banks and the BPFI yesterday to obtain information and assurances about their preparations for dealing with customers exiting payment breaks on a case by case over the coming months.
My officials regularly engage with banks including with Ulster Bank and they will continue to monitor the situation.
I would expect Ulster Bank Ireland to ensure that both customers and staff representatives are kept informed about developments in the review and are promptly informed about any decisions. The Bank will also have to keep the Central Bank of Ireland fully informed and comply with its requirements in its decision making process.