AIB back in profit – must remain in public ownership

· After socialising losses, profits can now be shared by society

· Banks can become a public utility to advance economy rather than make profits

The Anti-Austerity Alliance has said that the news that AIB has returned to profit should spark a debate in Irish society about the economic role banks currently play in society and the role they could play if they were kept in public ownership:

Paul Murphy TD said: “The news that AIB has returned to profit should not be used as the green light to sell it off back onto the markets again. The discussion has been framed by the minister in terms of getting back the €20 billion which the state put into the bank, and he currently has Goldman Sachs advising the government on how to sell it off.

“The Irish taxpayer had the losses of AIB, Anglo and Bank of Ireland socialised to the tune of over €60 billion, half of this in relation to Anglo has been wrote off by the minister.

“We should not now follow the economic orthodoxy of the establishment and rush to sell off a profitable state asset to recover the €20 billion that was put into it and say ‘we’re even now’. We should now have a discussion throughout society on the role of banks in the economy and the role they could play if they were used as a public utility rather than as a private profit making enterprise.

Ruth Coppinger TD “The economic crash which we have had since 2008 was the result of the drive for profits by private banks. That system is now thoroughly discredited. We should have a state-owned banking system in which the decision-making process isn’t based on maximising profits in the bank but is taken in terms of what is needed in society. Banks could be used to write-down people’s mortgages and come to solutions which are sustainable for people not profits. We could take decisions to make credit available to small business, and make money available for the building of houses in a sustainable way and not create a property and building bubble.

“This decision making process should not be made by an unaccountable bank board but must be made by elected representatives of those who will be effected by its decisions through workers representatives, community representatives, workers from the banks themselves and elected political representatives.”