Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has expressed his deep concern at the shock announcement that Danske Bank is to withdraw from the personal banking market in Ireland.

Deputy McGrath said: “The first priority must be to assist the 150 staff who will lose their jobs as a result of this decision. Similar to the case last week for the employees of ACC, the staff affected by this decision face a difficult task in securing new employment opportunities. The State must ensure that they have the supports necessary including advice and training opportunities at this time.

“Danske Bank was an innovative player in the banking sector and its departure from the personal banking market is a very worrying development.  The impact of the decision on the wider economy should not be underestimated. Less banks means less competition and inevitably higher borrowing rates, increased charges and reduced rates for deposits for both business and personal customers.

“While the National Consumer Agency has highlighted the need for more people to consider switching their current account, the reality is that we effectively have a duopoly between AIB and Bank of Ireland.

“In recent years we have lost Halifax, PostBank, Irish Nationwide, ACC and now Danske is significantly reducing its presence. There has also been considerable foot dragging in respect of the restructuring of Permanent TSB. We need a positive response from the European Commission to the restructuring plan that was put to them and swift action is needed to ensure that Permanent TSB can be a significant player in the Irish banking market.

“I have suggested that the Government bring forward a White Paper on banking competition. Five years since the onset of the crisis the Irish banking sector is still not fit for purpose. It is imperative that the Government has a strategy for the wider sector and not simply react to each development.”