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100 jobs go in Ulster as Bank of Ireland lays off 750

At least 100 job losses are expected in Northern Ireland as part of Bank of Ireland's plans to lay off 750 staff across the UK and Ireland.

The finance house announced yesterday the redundancies would be voluntary over a two-year period and are part of wider plans to secure billions in state aid and become more efficient.

Bank of Ireland employs 1,100 people in Northern Ireland, so the announcement is expected to axe a 10th of the workforce here.

“As the bank achieves its objectives to continue to become more focused and efficient, regrettably, this will mean a reduction of 750 in the overall number of people employed,” a Bank of Ireland statement said yesterday.

“The bank anticipates that the reduction can be achieved over a period of two years in areas affected by business change across the group in the Republic, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

The announcement comes after Bank of Ireland got the green light from European chiefs for a restructuring process which includes selling New Ireland Assurance and ICS Building Society. Bank of Ireland was told to raise €2.7bn by financial regulators in March.

The move was the latest stage in the recovery of the Republic's banking sector following a government bailout in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Irish lenders were hit hard by the collapse in the property market, which saw billions of euros-worth of property loans go bad.

The news comes as a further bodyblow to staff as more than 2,000 have left the Bank of Ireland Group as a result of people not being replaced since March 2008.

Irish Bank Officials' Association IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick said it was “a dark day for staff who are paying the ultimate price for reckless lending” by the bank.

“The only reason that we are here today is because of the crisis caused by reckless lending, “ Mr Broderick said.

There was no detail yesterday on the specific locations of the redundancies but the IBOA said there would be “significant job losses in Northern Ireland”.

“The majority of jobs will go in the Republic but on a pro rata basis there is the potential for 100 plus jobs to go in Northern Ireland,” Mr Broderick said.

He said the union will be scrutinising any specific proposals for job reductions with a view to securing alternative arrangements wherever possible.

The recession has badly hit the banking sector with hundreds of job losses across a number of banks.

Last year the Ulster Bank, which is part of Royal Bank of Scotland, shed 255 jobs.

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