Belfast Telegraph

MPs to probe Northern Ireland's banking sector

BY DAVID YOUNG

Problems encountered by Northern Ireland businesses trying to access bank finance are to be examined by a new Westminster inquiry.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee probe will analyse a range of issues relating to the region's banking sector.

It will investigate differences in bank structure and governance between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

And it will examine the effects of the sale of bank assets in Northern Ireland by the Republic's National Asset Management Agency.

The inquiry will also examine recent reports that the Treasury is considering breaking the relationship between RBS and the Ulster Bank and persuading the Irish government to take control of the latter.

In a wide-ranging exercise, MPs will assess the treatment of staff made redundant with the demise of the former Anglo Irish Bank, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

In regard to difficulties firms have accessing bank finance, the inquiry will look at the impact this has on moves to rebalance the economy to focus more of on the private sector.

The committee yesterday asked for written submissions ahead of public evidence sessions.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA), said: "This is a welcome inquiry which we hope will provide solutions about how we improve access to finance for small traders and ensure we have banks fit for purpose which play their role in investing for recovery.

"This inquiry must be about learning from past mistakes and looking to the future.

"NIIRTA looks forward to submitting evidence to the committee."

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