Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has called on the Minister for Finance to proactively engage with the Ulster Bank and its parent group NatWest over the future of its branches and operations in the state.
This comes after the unusual and premature resignation of its chairman less than two months into the job, the involvement of Goldman Sachs in the bank’s strategic review, and reports of its loan book being sold off to an aggressive vulture fund.
Teachta Doherty said:
“Ulster Bank plays a key role in our communities, supporting businesses and providing local jobs to 3,000 people in towns and cities and with an 88-strong branch network throughout the State.
“The closure of Ulster Bank would be bad for its customers, its employees and the Irish banking sector.
“Last month it was reported that the aggressive US vulture fund Cerberus was planning to buy Ulster Bank’s entire €20.5 billion loan book.
“This is one of the most aggressive vulture funds in the Irish market; known for ruthless repossession strategies.
“This month we had the unusual and premature resignation of its chairperson Ruairí O’Flynn less than two months after taking the role.
“This week there were reports that Goldman Sachs are advising NatWest on the future of Ulster Bank in this state, despite claims that the Strategic Review underway was an internal one.
“It should be lost on no one that Goldman Sachs has itself set up vulture funds in the Irish market to snap up distressed loans. Such a conflict of interest only adds to our concerns.
“Throughout this process, Ulster Bank have failed to adequately engage with the Financial Services Union, and have this week refused to appear before the Finance Committee.
“Ulster Bank and NatWest have refused to even share the terms of reference of its Strategic Review.
“The Minister for Finance must confront this issue with the seriousness it deserves. The Chairperson of the bank he recently met has now resigned and uncertainty for customers and employees has only increased.
“I have written to the Central Bank regarding competition concerns I have as a result of any withdrawal by Ulster Bank, and will be raising this issue with Minister Donohoe in the Dáil on Thursday.”