Union welcomes Finance Ministers' dialogue

Issued : 14 January 2011

IBOA The Finance Union has welcomed the initiative taken by Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, to raise concerns with his counterpart in the Republic of Ireland about the possible impact of the restructuring of Irish banks on employment and commerce in Northern Ireland, when he met Brian Lenihan for talks yesterday.

IBOA General Secretary Larry Broderick welcomed Mr. Wilson's expression of concern especially since the Republic's two major banks - both of which are supported by significant shareholding by the Irish State - are significant players in Northern Ireland's economy and employ thousands of staff.

"Of particular concern to both IBOA and to Mr. Wilson is the future of the AIB subsidiary, First Trust Bank - which was put on the market last Spring but then withdrawn from sale in November in the absence of any meaningful interest. IBOA has previously engaged with Mr. Wilson on this issue - which has also been the subject of a sustained campaign of lobbying of senior politicians throughout Northern Ireland by the Union and its members.

"Now that the Irish State is about to take a majority share-holding in AIB Group, the Government in the Republic has a major responsibility to secure the future of First Trust Bank and to ensure continuity of service to customers and to retain the maximum number of jobs. IBOA hopes that these aims will be reflected in the comprehensive restructuring plan which is currently in preparation by the recently appointed Executive Chairman, Mr. David Hodgkinson.

"Furthermore, it is essential that if any reductions in staff numbers are deemed necessary in FTB or indeed anywhere else within AIB Group, these should be achieved on a voluntary basis following full negotiation and agreement with the Union.

"Apart from the possible impact of the imminent restructuring of AIB, the general reconfiguration of the Irish banking sector which is widely anticipated following the recent enactment of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act - with its unprecedented new powers for the Republic's Finance Minister - may also have wider implications for the operation of all financial institutions on the island of Ireland which in turn may affect levels of economic activity in Northern Ireland as well as the Republic.

"As well as seeking a follow-up meeting with Mr. Wilson, IBOA the Finance Union also wishes to engage further with Mr. Lenihan on the future of the financial services sector," Mr. Broderick added.