Ulster Bank issues 'fixed by Monday'
Ulster Bank has said the backlog of payments caused by a technical issue with its systems experienced earlier this week should be resolved by Monday.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, the bank's chief operating officer Ellvena Graham said it would be working over the weekend to resolve the delays.
The issue arose as a result of a technical patch applied on Tuesday evening across the Royal Bank of Scotland Group's systems, which caused problems across the group, delaying certain payments in and out of Ulster Bank accounts.
That issue has since been resolved, Ms Graham said, but the resulting backlog has taken some time to clear. There is currently a 48-hour delay on payments to accounts, including salaries and social welfare payments.
Pensioners are among the 30,000 social welfare recipients who have had difficulty accessing their money. However, Age Action said it had been told that those affected by the delay could still withdraw money at their branches on production of relevant identification and bank statements.
This afternoon, the bank apologised “unreservedly” to customers who have been hit by the delays, and said it expected to be operational by Monday.
Eighty of the bank’s branches will open until 7pm to facilitate customers unable to get to a branch during normal opening hours. Twenty of its largest branches will open on Sunday from 10am to 1pm, the bank said.
“We appreciate that this is having a significant impact on many of our customers and customers of other banks and we again apologise unreservedly for this,” the bank said in a statement. “Customers who have incurred fees or charges as a result of this issue will be fully refunded in due course.”
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton today warned that 30,000 people on benefits could be left unable to buy food this weekend as a result of the technical problems.
“Given all of the grief that banks have caused to people in Ireland, I really think that the bank needs to address this particular situation with absolute urgency,” she said. “They have to look at the situation of people over the weekend, particularly older people, who spend all their social welfare income. For some of the people at the top of the banks, €100 might not seem a lot but it is to a pensioner.”
The Health Service Executive said approximately 38,000 staff had been affected, while the bank said up to 100,000 of its customers had been hit in some way.
The HSE said yesterday the technical glitch might delay the lodgement of salary payments due to be made to some staff.
It is understood that the problem will affect only some HSE staff, as different payroll set-ups mean some are paid weekly while others are on a fortnightly and monthly payroll.
The HSE said the bank had recommended that anyone due payments yesterday who needed access to their money should go to their local branch with identification and their payslip.
The Irish Payments Services Organisation said this was the first incident of this scale in the history of the Irish clearing system, with the organisation's Úna Dillion describing it as a setback in the promotion of Ireland's provision of electronic payments. The organisation was taking the incident very seriously, she said.
The problem is affecting both UK and Irish divisions of the banking group.
NatWest customers were today unable to transfer money in or out of their accounts for a second day as the computer glitch hit customers there. The bank said is was continuing to experience technical issues with its systems, impacting a large number of customers.
"As a result, money credited to accounts overnight may not be appearing on balances today," NatWest said in a statement.