Ulster Bank has confirmed that it is planning to cut 950 jobs from its Irish operations, with 597 to go in the Republic and 353 to be shed in Northern Ireland.

The bank said it expects to implement the redundancies by the end of the year.

It blamed the deterioration in local and global economies for its need to cut jobs and said the actions are being taken to ensure it is able to compete effectively in the Irish market.

A spokesperson told RTÉ News that compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out and would depend on the level of pick up for the redundancy scheme.

Asked whether the branch network would be affected, the spokesperson said that it had no plans at present to reduce the network, but that it was a matter that was kept under review.

Ulster Bank Retail Markets will bear the largest share of the redundancies. The bank plans to cut 446 jobs at that division.

Ulster Bank Corporate Markets will lose 184 employees.

The Chief Operating Office will lose 155 staff, while the Credit and Market Risk division will see a cut of 60.

Group Finance will shed 58 personnel, with Corporate Affairs losing ten.

The APS division will lose 26 people, Ulster Bank Regulatory and Operation Risk will lose six and the Global Restructuring Group will lose five.

The total reduction comes to 597 in the Republic and 353 in Northern Ireland.

The spokesperson that the terms of the redundancy package would be a matter for consultation.

The Irish Bank Officials Association said it was alarmed by the scale of the proposed job cuts.

The IBOA said it would seek a "detailed analysis from management" of the rationale for the redundancies.

The job losses are part of a larger rationalisation by its parent group Royal Bank of Scotland, which earlier announced around 3,500 job losses over the next three years.

Ulster Bank has 1.9m customers on the island of Ireland and currently employs 6,000 staff.

The announcement signals the second round of redundancies that the lender has undertaken since the Irish banking crisis began in 2008. The bank cut 1,000 jobs in 2009.

IPTU Adrian Kane said: "The level of redundancies being sought by Ulster Bank is unacceptably high.

"SIPTU members will not accept compulsory redundancies, nor will we accept any out-sourcing of jobs.

"Redundancies must only be on a voluntary basis and severance terms must reflect industry norms."

The union represents over 200 of the bank’s employees in the Republic.

Minister extends sympathy to workers

The Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn extended his sympathy to the Ulster Bank workers following this morning's announcement.

Speaking in the Dáil during Leaders' Questions, Minister Quinn said there is a bit of certainty now, albeit not the certainty that we would like.

He said there will be an assessment of their skill set, with a view to improving their skills to enhance their prospects in the jobs market.

However, Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said sympathy is not enough.

She asked when did the Government first have notice of these job losses and said it would be astonishing if the story just fell from the sky.