The revelation that AIB wrote down 80% of a €9.5 million debt owed by former Kilkenny hurling star DJ Carey in 2017 caused great controversy last week.
Many ordinary working people who the banks hounded for debts that they could not repay on far lesser sums during the Great Crash voiced some of the sharpest criticism.
For many such people, the pressure that was applied by the banks was so great that their own mental health was severely compromised.
The decision by the majority State-owned bank cost the taxpayer more than €7.5 million and seemed to point to a two-tier policy when it comes to write-downs.
Indeed, further recent examples of big write-downs for wealthy people came out in the wash including a €12 million one for a couple of property developers a few weeks ago.
AIB denies that it operates an Upstairs/Downstairs policy, claims that the same guidelines are applied to all customers in default and says that it will defend its policy in front of the Oireachtas Finance Committee on 2 March.
Oireachtas Finance Committee and Socialist Party member Mick Barry says: “Even if the banks can show that they do not operate one policy for the rich and famous and another for the rest of us this episode still shows the class bias built into capitalist society. There is an old saying that ‘If you owe the bank €10,000 euro you have a problem, if you owe the bank €10m euro the bank has a problem”. That’s true and obviously will benefit those who can borrow vast sums of money. DJ Carey may well be a strong case in point and whatever the outcome of the hearings the clear fact remains that the system is stacked against the ordinary working man and woman.”