Bank of Ireland boss apologises for ‘significant technology outage’

People queue to enter a Bank of Ireland branch in Finglas village, Dublin (PA)
People queue to enter a Bank of Ireland branch in Finglas village, Dublin (PA)

Bank of Ireland’s group chief executive Myles O’Grady has apologised for a glitch during the week that led to customers not being able to use their banking services.

The minister for finance said on Friday there is a need to establish a full account of the Bank of Ireland outage as there have been “too many such instances in recent years”.

The bank said a technical glitch resulted in customers not being able to check how much money was in their accounts or to transfer money.

Queues then formed at ATMs in various locations on Tuesday night as some people posted on social media to say that they could top up other banking apps or withdraw cash in larger amounts than what they believed was in their accounts.

Images and videos of lengthy queues at ATMs in Ireland have made international news, and the outage has prompted the Central Bank of Ireland to establish “a full account” of what happened.

Bank of Ireland technical issue
An out-of-service ATM at a Bank of Ireland branch in Finglas (Brian Lawless/PA)

Calling it a “significant technology outage”, Mr O’Grady said the bank’s reputation and trust with its customers and society had been damaged and they are “working to put things right”.

“This was a Bank of Ireland issue and our customers were impacted badly by this failure. We fell well below the standards our customers expect of us and I apologise sincerely for this,” he said in a statement.

He said that when its mobile app and digital banking went down on Tuesday, the priority was to ensure that customers “have access to cash and could transact on their cards to manage their daily needs, in cash, online or in a shop”.

“The challenge in doing this during an outage is that customers couldn’t check their balance and some may now find themselves overdrawn.

“I encourage any customers who were impacted by this week’s incident to contact us so that we can work together to find an appropriate solution.”

He said support had been put in place, including a dedicated customer service team and temporary interest-free overdrafts.

“We know we need to do better in future. We continue to invest in our technology to ensure customers have the very best banking services,” he said.

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Minister Michael McGrath said there had been disruption to people’s lives (Niall Carson/PA)

Finance Minister Michael McGrath said officials from his department are engaging with the Central Bank on the issue.

Speaking from Kent Station in Cork city, he said he wants to assess “the robustness of the systems being used by financial service providers, in particular those that are customer facing, to make sure that services can continue unhindered”.

Mr McGrath told reporters that it was “vital” that people have uninterrupted access to banking services.

“In recent years, we have had a number of instances where systems errors or systems outages took place.

“When you have outages like this, it can cause problems: very significant disruption to people’s personal lives, to the conduct of business, and it can have an impact on our economy.”

“I do think we have had too many such instances in recent years, and I want to be assured that the necessary investment is being put into systems where the public are interfacing with private companies, in terms of accessing their own money in particular.”