Ulster Bank staff who attended an online meeting with the Financial Services Union this afternoon, have expressed their "fury and dismay" at the lack of communication between the bank and its employees over its future, according to the FSU.

The union said over 500 staff attended the meeting, as it steps up its campaign to save the bank and protect jobs.

The bank, which is currently carrying out a strategic review of its operations in the Republic of Ireland, employs 4,000 people in towns and cities throughout the island.

2,400 staff members are in the Republic of Ireland in its 88 branch network, while 600 staff in Northern Ireland would also be impacted.

John O’Connell, FSU General Secretary, said NatWest’s lack of communication with staff around this strategic review is "disrespectful" and has caused considerable stress and uncertainty for them.

"This was highly evident at today’s meeting, where staff expressed fury and frustration at how they, and their customers are being treated.

"They said this uncertainty, which would be difficult in normal times, not to mind in the middle of a pandemic, is having an impact on their mental health, as well as on their relationship with their customers – some of whom have been with the bank for years, as they have no answers to their questions," he said.

The FSU said it will be conveying the sentiment of the meeting directly to the CEO of Ulster Bank, Jane Howard, when the union meets with her tomorrow, Thursday.

"It is not a sustainable position for the bank to continue with its existing line about the strategic review process, as it risks taking people for fools.

"All indications point to a decision being made in the next two weeks.

"The bank needs to show respect for its staff and immediately engage with us in a meaningful way about its actual plans so that our members - its employees, can have clarity about their employment," he added.

If NatWest does decide to exit the Irish market, Mr O'Connell said any solution needs to involve the maximum protection for customers, for jobs and the branch structure.

"The Government cannot, under any circumstances, allow a vulture fund to get its hands on any part of the loan book," he said.