Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s revelation that the government intends to use revenue from the sale of 25% of the state’s stake in AIB for debt reduction has been met with calls to keep the bank in state ownership. Currently, 99% of AIB is owned by the state.

Reacting to the Taoiseach’s statement in the Dáil yesterday (22nd March), Workers’ Party Dublin representative Gavin Mendel-Gleason said:

The state stepped in to bail out bankers at the beginning of the crash and, as the majority shareholder in AIB, taxpayers paid handsomely for its recovery. For us to sell off the bank now that it is back in the black – and let the wealthiest bankers reap the profits of Irish taxpayers’ investment – would be financial madness.

But even more scandalous still is to consider using the proceeds from the sell-off to be used to pay off debt – a debt which was never caused or created by the Irish taxpayer.

Mendel-Gleason noted the €40million which it is estimated will accrue to the financial advisors who are leading the sale of the state-owned bank, saying:

The bank bailout in its entirety has been one large gravy train – public handouts for bankers in the hard times, and privatisation of profits in the good times. It is no surprise that the sale of the state’s stake in AIB will lead to yet more profits for private financiers, accountants and advisers.

Justifying his calls for the bank to remain in state hands, Mendel-Gleason concluded:

We are already seeing the beginnings of a new property bubble in Ireland. A profitable, well-run state bank can be used to shift the Irish economy away from its dangerous reliance on property and tax breaks – as well as providing much needed revenue, such as this year’s €250 million dividend.