Dan White: Lenihan must make bank bosses give us our money back

WITH families facing tax increases and benefit cuts it is absolutely intolerable, that bankrupt banks AIB and Anglo Irish are still handing out hefty bonuses and pay increases.

Heard the one about the bankrupt Irish bank that, despite having been bailed out by the taxpayer, doled out €60m in bonuses? Or the other, even more bankrupt, Irish bank that gave its staff a 5pc pay rise when the rest of the country was being hit with pay cuts and massive tax increases?

Unfortunately the joke is on us, and it's not funny.


We now know that, over the past two years, even as it was writing off almost €10bn of bad debts, was transferring more than €20bn of bad loans to builders and property developers to NAMA and holding its hand out for at least €10bn of taxpayer-provided fresh capital, AIB was paying its staff €60m in bonuses.

While we have yet to get a firm number, cleaning up AIB will eventually cost at least €20bn, probably more.

Meanwhile, that financial black hole otherwise known as Anglo was awarding its staff a 5pc pay increase. This is despite the fact that Anglo has transferred €36bn of bad loans, half of its total loan book, to NAMA and will cost the taxpayer at least €34bn, and possibly as much as €40bn, to fix.

Do these guys still not get it?

At a time when the rest of us are desperately struggling just to get by they insist on living high on the hog like it was still 2007.

Tomorrow's Budget is going to be an absolute stinger.

Social welfare payments are going to be cut. Public sector pensions are going to be savaged. Taxes are going to be increased. The minimum wage is going to be gutted.

And why are we going to have to endure yet another savage budget, the fourth since October 2008, with the prospect of at least three more to come?

Yes, you've guessed it. The reason the rest of us have been reduced to penury is that the Irish taxpayer is having to pick up the tab for bailing out the banks.

Even the Government admits that the total cost of fixing the banks will come to €50bn while ratings agency Standard & Poor's, which consistently called the Irish banking crisis more accurately than the Government, reckons that the final bill will come to €90bn.


Surprise, surprise, the two worst offenders in the Irish banking crisis have turned out to be Anglo and AIB. It was these two rogue banks that have been responsible for almost three-quarters of all the bad loans to builders and property developers that the Irish banks are transferring to NAMA.

One would have thought that after landing the taxpayer in the merde in such a spectacular fashion, that AIB and Anglo would at least have had decency not to cause us even more offence. But no, they continue to party as if the Celtic Tiger was still roaring.

Enough is enough. We have owned 100pc of Anglo since January 2009 while we will own up to 99pc of AIB when its latest recapitalisation is complete early in the New Year.

This means it is the Irish taxpayer who is now the boss in the bank boardrooms.

And it's high time the Government made the bank bosses aware of this fact in no uncertain terms.

Brian Lenihan should pick up the phone to Anglo chairman Alan Dukes and AIB chairman David Hodgkinson to instruct them to reverse the pay increases and demand the return of the bonuses.


We have indulged the banks for far too long. It is time to crack the whip.

If either of these two gentlemen decline to reverse the pay increases and recover the bonuses, then Lenihan should immediately replace them with chairmen who will.