Sunday 17 December 2017

AIB 'losing run of itself' offering loans of €30,000 for fans to go to Euro 2016

Republic of Ireland players celebrate. Photo: Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland players celebrate. Photo: Sportsfile
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

AIB, the bank that was bailed out at a cost of €21bn to the taxpayer, has been accused of losing the run of itself again by offering loans of up to €30,000 for fans to go to Euro 2016 in France.

The bank can approve the loans and allow them to be drawn down within three hours if an application is accepted. AIB says on its website: "You can apply, get approval and draw down the loan entirely online in three hours."

But repayments on a €30,000 loan over three years would come close to €1,000 a month.

The interest rate is just short of 10pc, with the length of the loans between one and five years.

Labour TD John Lyons questioned why the bank was offering such big loans to those hoping to back the Boys In Green.

"A €30,000 holiday sounds more like a dream trip you would win, rather than something you would pay for yourself," he said.

The backbencher said the size of the loan would pay for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but you would spend a lifetime paying it back.


And the Consumers' Association called on the Central Bank and the Department of Finance to intervene to stop the bank again engaging in what it said was reckless lending.

Michael Kilcoyne of the consumer lobby group said: "AIB does not seem to have learned anything."

He said there was a huge risk of going back to the reckless lending that happened before 2008, which wrecked the banks and left householders heavily indebted.

News of the fast turnaround mega -loans came as AIB shareholders - essentially the Department of Finance - voted through a plan which would see €1.7bn returned to the taxpayer in the coming weeks.

But it emerged it will likely take five to 10 years for the Government to sell its entire 99pc shareholding in AIB following a planned minority stake sale next year, the bank's chief executive said.

Taxpayers have pumped €21bn into the bank to stop it collapsing.

Football experts said the Euro 2016 tournament in France is set to be more expensive than the last one in Poland. This is because fans will have to travel from Paris, on to Bordeaux then to Lille for Ireland's group games.

But the cost of supporting the Boys In Green is very unlikely to come anywhere near €30,000, even for an entire family, the experts said.

The average loan from credit unions for the 2012 event in Poland was between €3,000 and €4,000, according to the Irish League of Credit Unions.

AIB's website mentions that its customers, and new customers to the bank, can actually apply for amounts of over €30,000.

A spokeswoman for the bank denied it was acting irresponsibly.


Asked why it was lending so much for holidays, the bank would only say: "Personal loan amounts range from €1,000 up to a maximum of €30,000. We anticipate that the vast majority of Euro 2016-related loans will be at the low end of this scale."

She added that all the bank's loans are subject to a credit assessment based on the individual customer's ability to repay the amount requested. Banks are attempting to compete hard with credit unions, which are hoping for a surge of loan applications from football fans heading to the Euros in the summer.

Credit unions have more than €5bn to lend, with most seeing low demand for lending at the moment.

A league spokeswoman said: "Credit unions have historically had a very good relationship with travelling football fans and Euro 2016 will be no exception."

Irish Independent

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