Following the announcement that NatWest will wind down Ulster Bank following a phased withdrawal, IFA president Tim Cullinan said NatWest must make a commitment that it will not sell any of its loan book to so-called vulture funds.

It is estimated that there are 10,000 farmers with borrowings from Ulster Bank, and a further 10,000 availing of current account facilities.

Martin Murphy, Galway.

“This withdrawal has significant consequences for competition in the sector, but the first priority must be to ensure that the loan book ends up with a bank that provides a full banking service and not a faceless fund. NatWest has a moral responsibility to their customers to ensure this does not happen,” he said.

Tom O Keeffe, Cork.

IFA farm business chair Rose Mary McDonagh welcomed NatWest’s intention to facilitate existing customers to move to another full-service lender.

“NatWest/Ulster Bank must support its customers in moving to one of the other pillar banks in the State. IFA has repeatedly highlighted that it’s neither appropriate, nor suitable, to transfer loans to faceless funds,” said Ms McDonagh.

Jack Mills, Westmeath.

She added that Ulster Bank’s exit will further erode the diminishing competition in the sector. “Ulster Bank’s departure would be another crippling blow to competition in the sector. The lack of choice for borrowers will further drive up the cost of borrowing in Ireland.”