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Catholic Church loses millions in bank share crash

Catholic dioceses headed by Cardinal Sean Brady and Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin are nursing multi-million euro losses following the collapse of the Bank of Ireland share price, it has been revealed.

They are among a number of dioceses, political figures and charities which have lost a fortune on their Bank of Ireland shares.

At their highest value in February 2007, the shares traded at €18.70 (£16.21), but they were trading at their lowest point this year yesterday at just 43c (37p).

According to the register of Bank of Ireland's shareholders, Cardinal Sean Brady's Armagh archdiocese holds 409,000 shares that have plunged in value from over €7.6m (£6.6m) to just €204,000 (£176,883).

Dr Martin's Dublin archdiocese, which also lost money on AIB shares, had a much larger investment in Bank of Ireland with almost 400,000 shares, worth over €10m (£8.67m) three years ago but now valued at just €270,000 (£234,110).

A spokesperson for the archdiocese said the shares were held in trust for 199 parishes and that a large number of shares were bequeathed to these churches over the years.

The Masonic Trust Company, which represents the Freemasons and invests money on behalf of Masonic Lodges around Ireland, is nursing one of the biggest investment losses with its shares reduced from a high of €12.7m (£11m) to just €338,000 (£293,073).

The Diocese of Raphoe in Donegal, which also had shares in AIB, is sitting on big investment losses with its shares worth €192,000 (£166,480) compared to more than €7m (£6.07m) in 2007.

Other bishops on the share register include Dr Tom Flynn, retired Bishop of Achonry and Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick. St Finian's diocese, based in Mullingar, saw its share value drop from more than €10.1m (£8.76m) in 2007 to just €271,000 (£234,975).

Among the charities, the Governors of Mercers Hospital in Dublin hold 200,000 Bank of Ireland shares that are now worth €100,000 (£86,707) compared with over €3.7m (£3.21m).

Bank of Ireland has emerged from the financial crisis as the best of the country's bad banks, having escaped nationalisation.

The bank has said it doesn't need any further financial assistance from the Irish Government, which already has a 36.5% stake in the institution since injecting €3.5bn (£3.03bn) into it earlier this year.

Bank of Ireland’s prospects are brighter than AIB's and the register shows that a small number of charities have started to put money into its shares since the collapse.

Belfast Telegraph