Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank problems 'won't be fixed by Monday'

Problems for Ulster Bank customers following a computer breakdown 11 days ago, will drag on into next week, the bank has warned.

Stephen Cruise of Ulster Bank told Radio Ulster's On Your Behalf the huge backlog would not be fixed by Monday.

"We are still aiming for early in the week ahead. I don't have a definite date. It is complex," he said.

Ulster Bank branches are extending their hours over the weekend to deal with customer queries.

Twenty-six banks are opening from 10:00 BST to 15:00 BST on Saturday. Ten branches will open on Sunday from 10:00 BST until 13:00 BST.

Details can be found on the Ulster Bank website.

Staff are working to clear a huge backlog of uncompleted transactions since a computer problem prevented thousands of people from accessing their accounts.

"Our immediate urgent action is to deal with the customers. We are looking at every eventuality. It is our intention to make sure they are not out of pocket," Mr Cruise said.

"This weekend is key to us to try and catch up time.

"I can see the pain on customers' faces, the challenges and I can equally see the effort the staff are making."

He moved to reassure customers that direct debits due from customer accounts between 21 and 30 June had been paid.

He also countered criticism that the bank was limiting the amount that customers could withdraw.

"We look at the history on the account, we will release the cash to the customers. We are bending over backwards," he said.

"We look at how much you normally take out, how much is in your account, how much is on the payslip. The vast majority of our customers are delighted.

"Some people are not getting what they want. There is no point in taking out £2,000 if you only have £200. Clearly, we are giving out what has been agreed."

'Not helpful'

On Friday, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson criticised the ongoing delay.

Thousands of customers due to be paid on Friday struggled to get their money and people queued to get into certain banks.

Mr Wilson said uncertainty over sorting the problem was not helpful.

"Last week I was told it would be Monday, Monday I was told it would be Friday, yesterday I was told it would be some time next week," Mr Wilson said.

"But when you've had promises like that and the deadline keeps moving then you don't have a great deal of certainty.

"I hope that this has not been a cynical attempt by Ulster Bank just to give the story in dribs and drabs rather than give the whole bad news story."

On Friday, Ulster Bank said it had handled 70,000 calls in the past week.

It has updated its website with a series of questions and answers to help customers.

The Department of Finance is deferring customers rates payments due this weekend.

Up to 100,000 customers across Ireland have had difficulty accessing money in their accounts.

Some will not receive their wages or benefits until early next week.

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