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Still no resolution to Ulster Bank crisis

TENS of thousands of Ulster Bank customers will have to wait until later this week before their bank is fully operational after a huge computer meltdown left them unable to access their accounts or wages since last Wednesday.

The bank had promised that the balance on people's accounts would be up to date by tomorrow. But yesterday they were forced to admit that had been too ambitious.

The bank said: "Ulster Bank can confirm that while we continue to work through the backlog of payments, caused by our recent technical problems, it is taking us longer than anticipated to do so.

"As a result, our customers, and the customers of other banks, are continuing to experience issues with our services. Where customers have had money go into their accounts, there may be a delay in it showing up on their balance. We have also experienced a small number of interruptions to our ATM and online services."

A spokeswoman said they still hoped to have as many services as possible running by tomorrow.

As demands grew for the regulatory authority, the Central Bank, to intervene, it emerged that around 150,000 customers of Ulster Bank and other banks are affected by the biggest IT failure in Irish banking history.

Some 34 Ulster Bank branches opened yesterday and 20 others will be open today from 10am to 1pm.

Yesterday some customers took the opportunity to visit a bank branch to withdraw cash.

At Ulster Bank's O'Connell Street branch in Dublin one customer said he was considering changing his bank because of the crisis. Stephen Dunne, from Mountbrown, said his wages were due to go into his account by midnight last Wednesday but they had not even appeared on screen.

He said up to 30 people in the company he works for, which uses Ulster Bank, were affected. Mr Dunne was able to access his account at the counter when he brought in his pay slip, passport and a mini statement.

"I asked if there were any security issues because of this and they said no. But they haven't been good at communicating what has been going on, and they haven't given a valid reason for all this. It is a nuisance and I think I may change my bank," he said.

Another customer, Barry Quinn, from Ennis, said he was "totally happy" with the way the bank had dealt with it.

"Everything goes into my account but they have explained to me what has happened in relation to the balance," he said.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank said it was working closely with Ulster Bank "to ensure that the current situation is addressed quickly and that their customers and those of other banks are treated appropriately".

The Department of Finance said: "This technical problem has had a serious impact on customers and should be resolved as a matter of priority".

However, Fianna Fail spokesman on Finance Michael McGrath said the Central Bank had been "remarkably silent on the saga" over four days.

He said the bank needed to make a statement detailing the problem; and what was being done to resolve it.

Sunday Independent