AIB has revealed that 2019 pre-tax profits fell by 60% to €499m. Though more or less €10m a week, the figure is down from 2018’s €20m-plus a week. Though all banks pay an annual levy the fact that they can, like all banks, write off losses against tax, meaning it will pay no corporation tax on profits for years to come, must soften the blow.
Last year the Comptroller and Auditor General reminded us that the bill for bailing out banks was €64bn and servicing the debt cost between €1.1bn and €1.3bn. IBRC alone, thecadaver of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, costs €800m a year in debt-servicing costs.
These are, in any citizen’s language, tremendous figures and a tremendous imposition on the public purse. That reality was recognised nine years ago by the Ballyhea Says No — now Ballyhea Says Know — campaign. That small, defiant, perceptive group holds its last march tomorrow.
The logic of their argument is as powerful as ever, but, as they admit, they achieved little or nothing. Is it any wonder that democracy is so under threat, so diminished, so unconvincing?