Thursday, 18 February 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Deputy. I will be speaking to the Minister for Finance about this again today. I am sure he will be willing to engage with Opposition spokespeople and members of the committee on this issue as things develop. I will take that up with him later but I am sure he will be happy to brief spokespeople and engage with the committee.
As the Deputy knows, the Minister has already engaged with representatives from both Ulster Bank and NatWest in recent months. He also met with the Financial Services Union last December, as did I in recent months. When he met with representatives of Ulster Bank last October, he emphasised that he expected that staff representatives would be consulted and kept informed of any developments throughout the review process. I am concerned about the impact that ongoing media speculation is having on staff and customers of the bank. As the Deputy knows, customers, staff and the Central Bank must be informed promptly of any decisions that are made.
On the question of whether other banks in which the State has a shareholding have an interest in elements of Ulster Bank, while I appreciate that this is a pertinent question, I cannot comment on speculation about that as it would be inappropriate to do so for reasons of Stock Exchange market abuse rules. The Central Bank has clear requirements that apply when firms cease operations or transfer operations to another entity. Customers must be informed about those decisions and given at least two months' notice to move to alternative providers. If their loans are transferred, they must be given full details of the arrangements. All mortgages or loans which are sold or assigned to a new creditor will continue to be subject to the terms of the contract entered into by the borrower. If a loan is sold, the relevant Irish and EU consumer protections continue to apply.