Galway West Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell yesterday described the charging of quarterly fees by AIB on the accounts of customers who have just lost their jobs as a disgrace.

She has called by on AIB to cancel the fees charged and refund customers who have lost their jobs. Separately, Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has written to the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe and Central Bank raising the issue of banks charging additional interest on mortgage-holders who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

 Speaking this week Deputy Farrell said: “On Tuesday, tens of thousands of workers who have lost their jobs and income as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak received their first COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350. This payment will be needed for workers to pay their bills and feed their families.

“It is disgraceful to learn that AIB, instead of providing relief to these customers, have on the same day decided to charge quarterly fees to many of these customers who have just lost their jobs.

“These fees do not apply to customers with more than €2,500 in their accounts, but if you have just lost your job as a result of this outbreak they do. That AIB are charging workers and families who have lost their jobs and have little in their accounts these fees is a disgrace.

“I have been in contact with constituents who have lost their jobs and were relying on this week’s payment of €350 to get them and their families through the week. Tuesday morning they were hit with quarterly fees by AIB of up to €100.

“The COVID-19 Unemployment Payment was not intended for the banks, and this pandemic should not be used as an opportunity for banks to squeeze more out of their customers.

“On March 18th the Government and Banking and Payments Federation announced a suite of measures adopted by the five commercial banks to provide relief to customers.

“We know that this has involved the banks charging customers additional interest of as much as €2,000 for applying for mortgage breaks. To find out that they are still charging quarterly fees of up to €100 to customers who have just lost their jobs is further proof that banking culture has not changed.

“The State is the major shareholder in AIB. It is time for the Government and Central Bank to challenge the actions of the banks and put the interests of citizens first.”