The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has said any decision to diminish Ulster Bank's presence in the Irish market or to withdraw completely would have a very significant impact on staff, the economy as well as the availability of banking services across the Irish market. 

Michael McGrath said that Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has been engaging closely with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the issue.

Paschal Donohoe has also engaged directly with NatWest and the Government is awaiting the outcome of those talks.  

Mr McGrath said there are regulatory protections there that will be invoked in respect of all Ulster Bank's customers if it does decide to leave the Irish market. 

He said Ulster Bank is a really significant player in the banking sector, having been here for about 175 years.  

The Minister said Ulster Bank's parent company NatWest is currently doing a strategic review of its overall operations and will publish its annual results on Friday.

He said that while there is some speculation it may give the outcome of the review on Ulster Bank on Friday, the Government does not have the outcome of that review yet. 

Ulster Bank have about 15% of the Irish mortgage market, nearly 20% of the SME market and a loan book of around €20 billion, Mr McGrath said

He said the Government is not a shareholder in Ulster Bank and so this is a commercial decision for its parent.


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