Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath TD has welcomed correspondence from the UK Treasury confirming the importance of Ulster Bank being able to play its role supporting the Irish economy.
The support from the UK Treasury was set out in response to a letter from Deputy McGrath to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP.
Deputy McGrath commented, “As the third largest bank in the Republic of Ireland, Ulster Bank is hugely important to the Irish economy. A restructured Ulster Bank has the potential to be a significant player in economy recovery and to act as a counter-balance to our two pillar banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland. However, the latest review of Ulster Bank’s presence in Ireland has inevitably led to uncertainty about the extent of the bank’s commitment to the Irish market. This is why I felt it was important to highlight to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the vital importance of Ulster Bank to Ireland – north and south.
“Responding on behalf of the UK government, Sajid Javid MP – Financial Secretary to the Treasury – said he fully appreciates ‘the importance of Ulster Bank to consumers in Ireland and the role it plays in supporting lending and generating business in the Republic’. He notes it is in the ‘UK’s interest that Ireland has a successful economy and a stable banking system……It is therefore important that Ulster Bank is able to play its rightful role in supporting the Irish economy.’
“While Mr. Javid MP makes the point that the review of Ulster Bank in Ireland is ultimately a commercial decision for RBS, I would interpret his response on behalf of the UK government as being largely positive. He has acknowledged the mistakes made by the bank in the past and underlines the importance of the bank moving on ‘from the toxic past’. He concludes ‘This will be vital to put Ulster Bank on a long term viable and sustainable path, fully capable of making a meaningful contribution to the Irish economy’.
“It is now vital and the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach use their political offices to reinforce to the UK government the crucial importance for our economy of having a strong Ulster Bank presence in the Irish market. At a time when foreign banks are exiting the Irish market, the future of Ulster Bank in Ireland has become more important than ever.”