• March 23, 2010

There has been a more upbeat response to the plight of members of the Presbyterian Mutual Society (PMS) from the Assembly government in Belfast than the recent communication from HM Treasury in London.

In correspondence to the Celtic League the First and Deputy First Minister indicate a “full report on final considerations and options” will be unveiled soon (Full text of correspondence below).

“Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
Stormont Castle

Our Ref: COR 96/2010

19th March 2010

Thank you for your letter of 13 February. We have been asked to reply on behalf of the First Minister and the deputy First Minister.

Ministers are very aware of the anxiety and distress caused to members of the Presbyterian Mutual Society by the prevailing uncertainties around their savings. They recognise the pressing need to secure a solution and have devoted significant personal time and effort over recent months to work towards achieving a satisfactory outcome for everyone who has invested with the Society.

They originally met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London on 17 June 2009 when he agreed to establish a working group with representatives from HM Treasury and the Departments of Finance and Personnel (DFP) and Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) to bring forward a series of proposals to reach a solution.

Ministers were encouraged by the outcome of the Ministerial Working Group meeting on 14 October 2009 when they, along with their Ministerial colleagues, Arlene Foster and Sammy Wilson, met with the Chief Secretary of the Treasury. They emphasised the need for discussions at official level with banks to be progressed urgently and for an acceptable solution to the issue to be found as quickly as possible.

Since then, senior officials both here and in the Treasury have been looking at a number of options for dealing with the crisis but, as has been well documented, finding a remedy to the PMS problem is a complex matter and there are still a number of challenging issues to resolve. This has meant that the work on a solution has taken longer than expected. However, Ministers are expecting to be presented with the full report on final considerations and options from officials soon. The Administrator has told PMS members that it is in their best interests to await the outcome of the deliberations of the Working Group.

The financial and commercial sensitivities surrounding this matter are such that Ministers need to preserve a certain level of confidentiality around the details of options until a viable resolution has been identified and agreed. We can assure you that, despite the unfortunate but necessary delays, Ministers are continuing to work to secure the best outcome they can for PMS savers.

David McCreedy
PS/First Minister

Anne Martin
PS/Deputy First Minister”

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