Belfast Telegraph

Bank customers 'receiving no help'

Labour has called on the Government to intervene to help Northern Ireland residents suffering as as result of failures at Ulster Bank.

Lord McAvoy, the Opposition Northern Ireland spokesman in the House of Lords, accused Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson of being a "do nothing" minister and "not fit for the job".

His claims came as Ulster Unionist Lord Rogan told peers a further delay in correcting the technical failure at the bank would "compound the already serious cashflow problems".

At question time in the Lords, Lord McAvoy said shadow Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker had called for Mr Paterson to intervene, but he had said it was not his problem.

"He is still the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland - an important position," Lord McAvoy said. "This is a disgraceful position - 100,000 customers and small businesses in Northern Ireland are facing financial disaster, but they are receiving no help from a do-nothing Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who is not fit for the job."

Treasury minister Lord Sassoon said he did not accept the claim "for one minute".

"This is a very serious issue affecting 100,000 individuals both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," he said.

Mr Paterson had been "actively on the case" as had other Government ministers and the Financial Services Authority would investigate the issue.

Lord Rogan told peers on Thursday: "This morning, a spokesman for the Ulster Bank stated that this technical failure will not now be fixed until July 16. This further delay, now to be some three weeks, will compound the already serious cashflow problems businesses are encountering. Some companies are inevitably going to suffer losses."

Lord Sassoon said the parent company Royal Bank of Scotland had made a commitment that no-one would be left out of pocket.

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