Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank 'needs week to clear IT failure backlog'

Ulster Bank
Image caption Ulster Bank has apologised for the problem

Ulster Bank is extending opening hours at 80 branches across Ireland on Monday to deal with the backlog created by a technical failure.

The bank said the scale of the backlog was "unprecedented" and warned it could be a week before operations return to normal.

Meanwhile, the Northern Bank said a technical fault that caused problems for some customers has been fixed. It said it was working to re-establish all of its systems as quickly as possible.

A computer software failure meant tens of thousands of Ulster Bank customers could not access their accounts and wages were not paid in.

At the weekend, Ulster Bank branches opened to deal with problems created by the failure.

Chris Sullivan, chief executive of corporate banking at RBS, which owns Ulster Bank, said every effort was being made to ensure customers were not disadvantaged.

"We are putting all of our efforts into ensuring that nobody is out of pocket in this situation. We have a team working on all eventualities," he said.

"We are really sorry this has occurred. This is the last thing any bank would want. We are taking this really seriously."

The chief executive of the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB), Derek Alcorn, said he has spoken to the Ulster Bank and was assured that if customers brought proof of identity into the bank, they would receive their benefits or salary.

"That, along with longer opening hours, may well mitigate this for some people," Mr Alcorn said.

"We are available to people to help mediate with the bank and act on their behalf. There will be people who, if they can't get benefit, will be badly stuck.

"For an organisation the size of RBS there should have been an automatic business continuity plan or back-up."

Mr Alcorn said the CAB was available to help anyone having difficulties because of the bank failure.

Ulster Bank said extra staff had been drafted in to answer queries and resolve any financial worries customers may have had.

The bank has apologised again to customers affected.

It said thousands of employees were working around the clock to clear the backlog.

"We have extra staff in our call centres to deal with customer queries," the bank said.

"Yesterday (Saturday), we answered over 6,600 customer telephony queries, with all of these answered within 20 seconds. We have had 95% availability on our ATM network throughout the weekend.

"We dealt with over 9,000 customers in our 60 Saturday opening branches."

Customers can find answers to questions linked to the technical backlog, as well as details of the branches offering extended opening hours on the Ulster Bank website .

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