Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements
I am sharing some time with my colleague, Teachta Doherty. I ask the Minister that we would go back and forth with the questions and answers and try to respect the time, if possible. Time is short and I do not want to go into my colleague's time. Also, if there is a question that requires a follow-up I ask that we may engage afterwards on it.
I will start by raising the issue of Ulster Bank. I am aware that my colleague, Teachta Doherty, raised it already in the context of the broader implications but I want to focus on the men and women employed in Ulster Bank, many of whom found out through the media about the potential decision being made by NatWest so, naturally, they are extremely concerned. There is enough going on in the world without that. Has the Minister been in touch with Ulster Bank to discuss the potential losses of 2,500 jobs in this State and the 600 that potentially could be lost in the North? I ask him to use some of the time today to publicly express support for the use of the transfer of undertakings legislation to ensure that as many of those jobs in the bank, specifically those in the sales and services sector, are protected.
The Minster's Department will be working to assess the broader implications. There are implications for workers. There will be implications for business also. We are talking about the potential loss of jobs but there will be implications in the event that the decision goes the way believe it will go. There will be implications for businesses and for those workers. I ask the Minister to arrange a briefing for the Opposition spokespersons on this and also to bring us up to speed on the actions his Department will be taking to support the jobs and those businesses impacted by this decision. I ask also that the Minister would engage, as a matter of priority, with the Financial Services Union, FSU. I am aware it is seeking an emergency meeting with him to discuss how some or all of those jobs can be saved.