Government urged to act on banking crisis

Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureau manager, Pat Hutchinson. INNT 51-244CON
Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureau manager, Pat Hutchinson. INNT 51-244CON

THE Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has urged the government to step in to help those people affected by the Ulster Bank crisis.

For the past two weeks, customers have been experiencing problems accessing their accounts, including wages and benefits, following a technical fault.

Branches of the RBS-owned bank across Newtownabbey have been queued out of the door as people try to get access to their money.

And despite branches staying open longer and also over the weekends, officials have still not been able to say when normal service can resume.

Pat Hutchinson, Manager of Newtownabbey CAB has urged the government to step in and help.

She said: “Of course the politicians are saying how awful this is for people, but if they could provide financial assistance to those affected and then reclaim the money from the Ulster Bank that would provide much needed help.

“We have been contacted by families struggling to get by and pensioners who cannot physically queue up at the banks; this could not have happened at a worse time with the holidays coming up.

“The bank really does need to sort this out and we would urge anyone who has been affected to call in to us and we can see what help we can provide.

“In the meantime, people need to keep records and receipts about how much this is costing them, so that they can apply for compensation from the bank when it is over.”

Meanwhile, in Ballyclare this week customers appeared to be taking a relaxed approach to the crisis.

Dorothy Mulligan who was visiting the High Street branch to withdraw cash, said: “I was in Belfast and the queues were out the door, so I just waited until I got to Ballyclare to get my money.

“I have had no real problems, it has all been plain sailing.”

Tom Andrew, from Doagh was checking on his account balance on Monday afternoon.

“This will sort itself out and it shows you that you should not have all your money in the one place. The staff in the branch have all been very co-operative - but it is not their fault,” he said.

“Of course when the ones at the top of the bank do something wrong, it is the staff in the banks who get all the hassle and lose their jobs.”

Self-employed musician Chris Todd was experiencing difficulty getting access to some of his cash.

He told the Times: “I have another bank account, so I have been able to use that during this problem.

“There are a couple of payments that have not gone in, but I can manage as long as this does not go on much longer.”

The bank has apologised for the problems and assured customers they will not be left out of pocket. Those unable to get to a branch should call 0800 231 232.