Ulster Bank to close 20 branches

Royal Bank of Scotland’s Ulster Bank division has become the latest lender to scale back in the wake of Ireland’s financial crash by unveiling plans to close about 20 branches.

Ulster has already made hundreds of redundancies and last year announced a second round of job cuts involving the departure of 950 staff.

Ulster Bank axed 1,000 posts in 2009.

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The latest redundancies were delayed by an IT failure at the bank last June, which cost Ireland’s third-largest lender tens of millions of euros in compensation after salaries failed to appear in accounts and customers’ household bills went unpaid.

Ulster said it was reviewing its 236 branches “to ensure we are operating in the correct locations for our customers”. The branches are spilt between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and the group plans to give customers more details about the closures in the next few weeks.

Allied Irish Banks, Ireland’s second-largest lender, is closing a number of branches as it trims its workforce by almost 20 per cent, while Denmark’s Danske Bank left the Irish market altogether last year.

Bank of Ireland, the only domestic lender to avoid falling under full state control, has not closed any branches since the crisis, despite cutting its staff numbers substantially.