Move to allow bailed-out banks resume paying bonuses 'an insult', Dáil hears 

It will allow banks who received billions in bailouts over a decade ago to resume paying bonuses of up to €20,000 to staff
Move to allow bailed-out banks resume paying bonuses 'an insult', Dáil hears 

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said the idea was insulting to the public during a cost-of-living crisis. File Picture

A move to allow bailed-out banks resume paying bonuses is "an insult" to Irish people, the Dáil has been told.

Cabinet on Tuesday signed off on the Report of the Retail Banking Review, which includes an easing of restrictions on pay and bonuses for employees of institutions that were bailed out by the Irish taxpayer during the financial crisis.

It will allow banks who received billions in bailouts over a decade ago to resume paying bonuses of up to €20,000 to staff.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall told Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, taking Leaders' Questions on Thursday, that the idea was insulting to the public during a cost-of-living crisis. 

She said the Government's justification of the move makes it seem that "no self-respecting high-flying banker would want to work for less than €500,000, as if they could not survive on a salary that is more than double that of the Taoiseach".

She added people are "feeling a sense of déjà vu" about the decision.

"We have all been here before. We were told just before the financial crash that bankers' pay was so enormous because they were employing the very best. It is worth recalling some of those salaries now. 

"In 2006, the former CEO of Bank of Ireland Brian Goggin took home a salary just shy of €4m. The bank subsequently required a €5bn bailout from the State. 

"Over in AIB just before the crash, its CEO Eugene Sheehy was on a more modest €2.5m per year. At the time, AIB said its policy when it came to the pay of its senior executives was to 'reinforce a high-performance and ethical culture'. Is it any wonder that people are sickened by what the minister is now doing?"

Róisín Shortall said the Government's justification of the move makes it seem that 'no self-respecting high-flying banker would want to work for less than €500,000, as if they could not survive on a salary that is more than double that of the Taoiseach'.
Róisín Shortall said the Government's justification of the move makes it seem that 'no self-respecting high-flying banker would want to work for less than €500,000, as if they could not survive on a salary that is more than double that of the Taoiseach'.

Ms Shortall said banks were recently fined millions of euro for their roles in the tracker mortgage scandal.

AIB was hit with a fine of €83.3m for its role in the tracker mortgage scandal, while Ms Shortall said Bank of Ireland "was hit with a record €100m fine for its role in the scandal that ruined thousands of lives and resulted in the loss of hundreds of homes".

“As if all of that were not bad enough, lifting these restrictions on bonanza pay and bonuses is especially galling given the cost-of-living crisis that is decimating the incomes of so many working families and workers generally all over the country,” Ms Shortall said.

"This decision is an insult to those working families.”

In response, Mr Donohoe argued that Ireland now has a banking sector "with a fundamentally different regulatory environment to what we had in the years that led to the financial crisis and banking crisis". 

However, he said he appreciated "the sensitivity of this decision given the public hurt and public emotion that has been caused" by the crash.

"We have only three retail banks left in our country. More than 30 banks are present in the economy. None of them are being subject to the pay cap restraints I made the decision to change, while the banks that employ the most Irish people and hold almost €200m in deposits of Irish people, are subject to them. 

"There are consequences to this and the Government has made a moderate change recognising the risks and difficulties that are there."

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