Bank of Scotland (Ireland) to close
The worst fears of 800 finance workers have been realised after Bank of Scotland (Ireland) (BoSI) announced it will shut its doors by the end of the year.
The company said the vast majority of employees will be transferred to an independent firm to close accounts and manage the existing £30 billion loans as bosses oversee the wind-down from the UK.
Such a dramatic departure from Ireland just over a decade after it entered the market was seen as one of the biggest casualties of recession after the nationalisation of Anglo-Irish Bank.
Brian Gallagher, Unite trade union regional officer, said staff were left reeling by the closure less than six months after BoSI axed 750 jobs and moved to close its high street brand in Ireland, Halifax.
"They're very, very angry," he said. "Six months ago one of the largest financial institutions in Europe said that their jobs were secure. At a stroke of a pen they've decided that they're not interested in Ireland any more."
Joe Higgins, BoSI chief executive, said he regretted putting staff through another tough selection processes only months since the last. "I really regret that's the circumstances we have put them through and I've said that to them personally and face-to-face," Mr Higgins said.
Thirty-six staff face compulsory lay-off. Some 840 staff are still employed by BoSI and management said the vast majority should secure a transfer to the independent firm in Ireland, which will oversee administration of its remaining Irish business. It is hoped this company could run for at least seven years managing the loan book and seeking new business.
The young bank - a division of UK finance giant Lloyds Banking Group - announced plans in February to shut all 44 Halifax branches after only four years trading.
In a statement, Lloyds said there was little opportunity for BoSI to enjoy scalable growth in the future and management of the business would be transferred to Bank of Scotland. The move will see the balance sheet and loan book effectively placed on bank books outside Ireland.
BoSI has staff in its St Stephen's Green head office in Dublin and in regional offices in Belfast, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.