The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform has said it may have to recommend the introduction of legislation to stop the sale of Ulster Bank's loans to foreign buyers.

In an interim report published today, the committee said Ulster Bank and its parent NatWest have declined all invitations to meet with the committee to date.

After months of speculation about the possible outcome of a strategic review of Ulster Bank's Republic of Ireland operations by its parent NatWest, clarity could come on Friday when NatWest is due to report its annual results for 2020.

According to the committee report, the bank indicated that it was not in a position to meet as the review is still ongoing and no decisions have been made.

It also cited commercial sensitivities as a reason for declining such a meeting.

The committee said it is "disappointed" that such a meeting has not taken place with the bank and that the committee has not had an opportunity in advance of the completion of the strategic review, to discuss with Ulster Bank and NatWest concerns expressed to the committee.

Ahead of a possible announcement on Friday, the committee reissued its invitation to Ulster Bank to meet in advance of any final decisions being made.

It said if a meeting does not take place, it will then consider recommending legislation be introduced.

The report stated, "In the event that there is not timely and meaningful engagement with the committee, it is of the opinion that it will have to give serious consideration to recommending the urgent introduction of legislation to require that any sale of Ulster Bank assets is to another pillar bank or banks, notwithstanding the competition issues that might arise as a result."

The committee report also acknowledged the growing concerns of the Financial Services Union, in relation to the lack of engagement with staff, which the committee described as "particularly insensitive."