The consumer representative on the Irish Banking Culture Board has said he is writing to its chairman and CEO to complain about the announcement by AIB of changes in charges for its current account holders.

In a letter to customers, AIB said that free banking for current account holders will end on 30 May.

AIB current account holders previously did not pay maintenance and transactions fees if they kept a minimum balance of €2,500 in their account on a quarterly basis.

But the bank said it now intends to apply maintenance fees of €4.50 per quarter, while transaction fees will also be applied to current accounts at the end of every quarter.

"The fees and charges will start from 30th May 2020 and the first time you will see this being charged to your current account will be 28th September 2020," AIB told its customers in the letters.

Padraic Kissane said the latest move from AIB shows a profound lack of understanding in what the entire country is trying to deal with at present.

"There is an alarming lack of empathy and in short it should not have been sent today just as the entire country is heading into a weekend without any certainty of what is happening next week not to mind in May," he said.

He said the bank should pause the proposed increases for six months.

The financial advisor said that was "not a lot to ask given what is occurring and the real fears people are dealing with at present".

"It should not have been sent ... full stop, and certainly not today," he added.

AIB came in for criticism last week for trying to introduce a one cent charge for customers who make contactless payments from May. It has since dropped the contactless fee proposal.

A spokesman for AIB said the bank had written to its customers to let them know of changes to the charges for their current accounts and it also advised them how they can keep their fees to a minimum.

"The European interest rate environment has made it difficult for the bank to provide maintenance and transaction fee free banking," the spokesman said. 

"We want to ensure that AIB can continue to invest in a market leading current account proposition and provide a high standard of banking services to all our current account customers," he added. 

AIB also said it continues to provide banking free of maintenance and transactions fees for student, graduate, advantage and basic bank accounts. 

Customers who have a mortgage with the bank and pay their mortgage direct debit from an AIB current account will also be exempt from these changes, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly Seán Fleming has called on Bank of Ireland to immediately halt plans to increase cash-handling fees for business account holders in May.

His calls come as a letter was issued to business account holders this morning informing them that there would be a 33% increase in charges for any business making cash lodgements or withdrawals.

Mr Fleming explained, "For Bank of Ireland to announce this hike in charges, at a time when small businesses are struggling due to the Covid-19 crisis is absolutely unacceptable.

"Many small businesses receive some payments in cash, especially from those older customers who may not have access to cards or online banking. It's completely unreasonable to expect businesses to now pay 80c on every €100 lodged or withdrawn, a massive increase from the current charge of 60c.

"In the midst of this outbreak, where small business owners have shown great leadership the bank must not proceed with this unjustified profiteering.

"I am calling on the bank to immediately suspend the planned increases and instead do what they can to support small businesses during this crisis."