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Thousands of bank staff facing the axe

THOUSANDS of bankers are set to join the dole queues over the coming year as just two "pillar" banks emerge from the rubble of the Celtic Tiger.

The major restructuring of our troubled financial system will result in the loss of at least 2,000 jobs "in the near future".

This comes on top of almost 7,000 jobs that have been lost at the banks since the crisis first hit in September 2008.

EBS chief executive Fergus Murphy refused today to speculate on how many of his employees would lose their jobs when the institution is absorbed into AIB.

As part of the plan to downsize the banking sector to a level appropriate to Ireland, the Educational Building Society is to be combined with AIB.

However, Mr Murphy said that he knew nothing about the merger until it was confirmed by the Government yesterday.

"I expect that there will be rationalisation through time," he said. The bank employs 650 staff but can now expect dozens of branches to close.

Asked how many jobs will be lost, Mr Murphy said: "I genuinely have no idea. I think we'll have lots of time to work through this and talk about it."

Large job losses are also expected at Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide which are to be wound down.