What have the banks ever done for us, eh?

It's gone a bit like Monty Python's Life of Brian amongst the various pro-consumer groups jostling to be the voice of distressed mortgage holders.

Some of the reactions from rival consumer advocates to this week's AIB initiative with David Hall's Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation (The People's Front of Judea?) were particularly amusing.

Brendan "Fill Your Boots With Bank Shares" Burgess, the founder of consumer website Askaboutmoney. com, is no friend of Hall. There was a waspish tone to several of his postings about the initiative, where AIB will grant IMHO €150,000 to represent distressed mortgage holders in talks.

He cautiously welcomed it as rumours spread on Sunday. But Burgess, who runs a separate group for IBRC mortgage holders (The Judean People’s Front?), also had a dig at Hall’s well-known propensity for verbosity.


“I must revisit my strategy – it may be more effective to rant and rave rather than to be reasonable and rational,” said Burgess, who later complained Hall has “savaged” him on the airwaves.

On Monday Burgess was still behind the AIB-IMHO deal, but by Tuesday he was having another dig: "I think that there is a risk that this initiative will fail and that there will be a massive falling out between AIB and David Hall. " In the meantime Eddie Hobbs (Campaign for a Free Galilee) criticised Burgess for hijacking the press conference to announce the IMHO initiative: "Solid start.... but pity so much time [was] eaten up by a former AIB shareholder Brendan Burgess. "

By Wednesday Hall was on RTÉ radio debating the merits of the deal with Jill Kerby, a Sunday Times columnist and consumer advocate who has criticised it. Burgess backed Hall against his one-time ally Kerby.

And then there is is the Freeman philosophy-spouting Ben Gilroy (surely the grumpy, one-man Popular Front of Judea). Audio of an interview in which he eviscerates Hall is now doing the rounds on Youtube. Gilroy and Hall, of course, were also allies before falling out.

Confused yet? I am.