ULSTER Bank has announced that 60 of its branches will remain open this weekend as it attempts to resolve technical issues that have hit thousands of its customers.
The Central Bank last night stepped into the row over the Ulster Bank problems, calling the delays "unacceptable"In a statement, the Bank said it was "concerned by the unacceptable continuing delays by Ulster Bank in fully resolving the failure of its payment system and the consequent impact on its customers".
Central Bank Deputy Governor Matthew Elderfield met RBS chief executive Stephen Hester earlier this week to "emphasise the importance of addressing the continuing delays in resolving the technical issues which are impacting Ulster Bank customers", the Bank claimed.
"The Central Bank is working with the UK Financial Services Authority and the Bank of England in investigating the root cause of the issue at the Group level and how this has impacted Ulster Bank's payment systems," the Bank added.
The boss of Ulster Bank broke his silence yesterday as the IT meltdown that has denied customers access to their salaries entered its tenth day.
And Jim Brown said that it will now be the middle of next week before the unprecedented breakdown is resolved.
Large numbers of people due to be paid in the last two days have complained that their salaries are not showing up in their bank accounts.
Asked why the bank had missed yet another deadline to fix the problems, Mr Brown said the crisis was proving far more complex to deal with than at first realised.
And he defended his failure to come out and personally explain what went wrong and apologise for the mess.
"My focus has been on addressing the issues for customers," he said.
He revealed that 60 branches would extend their opening hours this Saturday and that 22 branches would open on Sunday.
Asked when payments will finally be updated for thousands of distressed customers, he said it will be early next week before the problems are resolved.
Mr Brown refused to be drawn on whether or not Ulster will pay compensation to its customers, and those of other banks who are paid through the British-owned bank.
People have missed direct debits, standing orders and have exceeded credit card limits because their social welfare and salaries have not been credited to their accounts, and payments have not been paid into other banks.
Mr Brown insisted that all fees, charges and interest incurred as a result of the computer cock-up would be refunded.
Ulster, which is the third- largest retail bank in the State, said a systems upgrade that went wrong caused the massive malfunction.
Asked what he had learned from the crisis, Mr Brown said he would now oversee a major review of the bank's entire operations to ensure a similar computer collapse does not happen again.