Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

First Trust Bank staff seek Assembly’s help over AIB’s plans to sell company

Staff from First Trust Bank have urged the First and deputy First Ministers to support their efforts to get its parent company Allied Irish Bank to take it off the market.

Bank employees and their trade union representatives met with First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Belfast yesterday to outline their concerns |about the proposed sale of First Trust by AIB.

The meeting follows earlier conversations with Finance Minister Sammy Wilson and the Assembly’s finance committee.

AIB put the bank up for sale alongside its other UK and international assets in a bid to raise the billions of euro it needs to stop the Irish government taking a majority stake in the company.

First Trust employees are worried that it will be sold to a firm that will make substantial cuts to its branch network.

Speaking before the meeting, general secretary of the Irish Bank Officials Association, Larry Broderick, reiterated his views that the decision by the AIB Group to sell First Trust Bank is “irresponsible, short-sighted and damaging for jobs” at a bank that is a vital part of the local community.

“Forcing a sale of First Trust Bank at a time when international financial markets are in the doldrums will almost inevitably result in a fire sale — which would be an open invitation to an asset stripper with little or no commitment to FTB’s branch network, to its current levels of employment or to the wider economy of Northern Ireland,” he said.

“A sale of First Trust Bank in the present climate could see the bank’s presence reduced significantly, both in terms of employment and in terms of providing credit to the economy, which would in turn result in less competition and longer dole queues.

“At today’s meeting we will be inviting the First Minister and deputy First Minister to add their voices in support of our efforts to lobby the AIB Group Board and the Department of Finance in Dublin, as AIB’s biggest share-holder, to rescind this short-sighted decision,” he added.

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