Ian Guider: A banking duopoly would be as bad for Ireland’s interests as a limit of two supermarkets

We can’t afford to lose any more banks, so let’s revisit the idea of local banking or make the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland a standalone entity

The designation of AIB and Bank of Ireland as pillar banks may end up costing consumers. Picture: Getty

Back in early 2002, Michael Soden, who had recently been installed as chief executive of Bank of Ireland, floated the controversial idea that the best interests of banking in this country would be served by a merger with AIB.

His thinking was that one strong, Irish-owned and controlled bank would be much better than international lenders coming in and snapping up either of them. At the time, cross-border mergers in banking were common.

The danger ...