Ulster Bank's Republic of Ireland operations made a loss of €255m last year, largely due to an impairment charge taken relating to the impact of Covid-19.

The bank had income of €574m in 2020, down 11.3%, due to a fall in lending, lower foreign exchange gains and lower income from fees.

However in the same period its expenses fell by 13% to €548m, as it reduced staffing levels and its marketing activities.

During the year the bank also had €281m in impairment charges, largely to cover the economic uncertainty in the first half of the year as a result of the pandemic.

That left the bank with a €255m loss, compared to a €55m profit in 2019.

Net lending to customers decreased by 6.5% to €20 billion, while customer deposits rose to around €21.8 billion.

Today Ulster Bank's parent company NatWest announced plans for a phased withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland.

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Following a strategic review, the banking group had concluded that "despite the significant progress that had been made in recent years, Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland will not be in a position to achieve an acceptable level of sustainable returns over its planning horizon".

The bank has 1.1 million customers here, along with 2,800 staff in 88 branches around the country. 

Ulster Bank's operations in Northern Ireland are unaffected by the decision.