News & Media

Banks must “begin paying taxes”

14 May 2019

Statement by Dominic Hannigan
Euro Candidate for Ireland Midlands North West

As Bank of Ireland holds AGM, Dominic Hannigan calls for banks to “begin paying taxes”

Irish people are losing out on hundreds of millions a year for public services because banks don’t pay tax on their profits.  That’s according to Dominic Hannigan, the Labour Party’s European election candidate for the Midlands North West constituency.

As the AGM of Bank of Ireland unfolded at the RDS in Dublin 4 this morning (14.05.19), Mr. Hannigan was outside the Bank of Ireland premises in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, where he launched a campaign, begintopay.ie, to put pressure on Irish banks to pay their fair share of tax.

“The figures are mind-blowing,” he said.  “In 2017, Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB made combined profits of €2.5 billion.  But they did not pay a single cent in tax on those profits. The people of Ireland lost out on up to €233 million in taxes from those three banks alone – in a single year.

“The banks have a special tax exemption, but the time to end that exemption is now.  The head of AIB has boasted to investors that the bank will not pay corporate tax for another 30 years.  We’re talking about a bank here that cost us – the people of Ireland – more than €20 billion to bail out during the recession.

“And, at the same time as they’re counting their billions of euro in profit – all tax-free – the banks are shutting down branches across the country and cutting back on essential services, such as ATMs.

“The main banks have closed at least 129 branches across Ireland over the past seven years.  Banks cannot be allowed to rack up profits without contributing their fair share to the Exchequer.  I’m calling for an immediate end to the tax exemption for banks; and I’m asking communities throughout the Midlands North West and across the country to back my campaign on this issue.”

Begintopay.ie campaign

At today’s event, Mr. Hannigan honed in on Bank of Ireland’s most recent advertising campaign, which has a theme of “Begin”, and launched his own begintopay.ie website in response.

“Today, Bank of Ireland held its AGM and, no doubt, there was a lot of self-congratulating about its impressive profits and the recent launch of the new ‘Begin’ campaign,” he said.  “And it’s not just Bank of Ireland: you can’t pass a bus-stop without seeing huge ads from banks, claiming that they’re here to support working people, families, and small business. This is sheer hypocrisy.  I am asking people across the Midlands-North-West and Ireland to join me in campaigning for change by signing up to the begintopay.ie website.

“It’s high time that banks begin to treat the people of Ireland fairly.  They have gotten away with far too much for far too long. We bailed them out during the recession, and their thanks is to shut down rural services, all while racking up their profits.

“Ordinary people struggle to pay their own taxes, but do so unfailingly.  People across Ireland are finding it impossible to buy their own homes. And thousands of people nationwide are still reeling from the after-shock of the recession.

“As a country, we have shown our resilience and we are starting to experience economic recovery.  The time has come for banks to be held accountable – and to begin to play their role in recovery too.

“A new culture of banking is required in Ireland and, as an MEP, I will campaign for a new banking model, which enables small businesses, communities and working families, to access banking services that truly meet their needs.

ENDS