Bank of Ireland takes €1.1m from airport's deposits
Two ministers were seeking clarification last night after Bank of Ireland raided €1.1m held on deposit by Galway Airport and offset it against the company's loans.
It is understood that the money was part of a €2.1m payment by the government to the airport company in December to fund its operational expenditures and a redundancy programme.
Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is the major shareholder in the airport, said yesterday that the move had put the future of the airport in jeopardy and stressed that the company's loans were completely compliant and up to date.
Chamber president Declan Dooley said he was outraged at the bank's actions, but acknowledged that the bank had not acted outside the terms of its loan agreement.
"This is an unprecedented move," Mr Dooley said. "This has put the airport in an incredibly precarious situation."
The airport company had €1.6m on deposit last week, but the bank informed the airport chairman that €1.1m of this was being offset against its loans.
Last night Galway West TD Brian Walsh said he had been in touch with the Finance Minister and the Transport Minister about the bank's action. Michael Noonan was seeking a report from Bank of Ireland on the matter while Leo Varadkar asked officials to look into the situation.
"This is an entirely unacceptable departure by Bank of Ireland in terms of its actions in this matter. The Galway Airport company is in a minority of businesses in that it has kept its payments up to date under the loan agreement.
"So, for the bank to turn around and remove these funds is entirely unacceptable. The funding that the taxpayer has provided was not to repay loans to Bank of Ireland," Fine Gael TD Mr Walsh said.
A spokesperson for Bank of Ireland said it could not discuss the affairs of individual customers.