Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has announced his intention of bringing in a 90% tax on any future bank bonuses. But he said this would not affect the €40m being paid to AIB staff, as that relates to work done before 2009.

He said legislation brought in on foot of the bank guarantee already prohibits the payment of any performance bonuses to senior bank executives. No bonuses have been paid to bankers for 2009 or for this year, he said.

Earlier, it emerged that AIB is to pay €40m in bonuses next week as a result of a High Court ruling earlier this year. Last year almost €55m was paid to staff in bonuses.

The average bonus to be paid to the 2,400 entitled staff is €16,700. Taxpayers have paid €3.5 billion to bail out the bank to date. The €40m represents a large part of the €572.9m the bank is worth on the Irish Stock Exchange today.

The bank's executive chairman David Hodgkinson told staff the payments reflected the past, and this was not the way the bank intended to conduct itself in the future.

Mr Hodgkinson issued a note to staff about the bonuses. 'Whilst this is legally required of us, it reflects the past and is not the way we intend to conduct ourselves in future,' he said.

'The issues we are facing mean that the bank currently relies on Government and taxpayer support and I am working to ensure that, in future, our pay and benefits policy is more reflective of our organisation's responsibilities, performance and of the economic climate in general,' he said.

IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O'Leary has said that paying €40m in bonuses to AIB executives is 'bizarre'. He told RTE Radio he wished the IDA had that sort of money to repair the country's tarnished reputation on the international scene.

Still problems with BoI online banking

Bank of Ireland has confirmed that its customers are continuing to experience intermittent difficulties accessing its online banking service today.

The bank says technical problems with the system, which began on Tuesday, are still being stabilised. As a result the online service has either been completely unavailable or has been running very slowly since this morning.

The bank says its phone banking, ATM, laser and branch services are operating normally, and it is encouraging customers to avail of these services instead of using internet banking. The bank has warned that it expects the problems to continue until at least this evening.